ISLAMABAD - Close on the heels of the visit of Iran’s interior minister, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be leaving for Iran today with the aim to enhance bilateral relations with specific focus on strengthening economic ties between the two brotherly Islamic states.
He is visiting Iran (from May 11 to 12) on the invitation from President Hassan Rouhani, according to an official statement on Saturday. Nawaz Sharif’s sojourn will be the first top leadership level visit since the formation of new governments in the two countries.
Of late there have been tensions between the two countries on the issue of the kidnapping of the Iranian border guards. Several steps were decided, including the setting up of hotlines, to better coordination between the security agencies of the two countries during the Iranian interior minister’s visit earlier this week.
There is also the issue of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline which has been stuck due to US sanctions. Pakistan will have to pay a fine of $3 million a day if it doesn’t construct its side of the pipeline by December 2014, which has not even started so far even though the design is in place.
A high-ranking delegation including Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Chief Minister, Balochistan will accompany the prime minister.
The prime ministers’ engagements in Tehran include bilateral meeting with President Rouhani and call on the Rahbar, Ayatollah Ali Khamenai. The leadership level discussions would afford the two sides an opportunity to review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations as well as regional and international developments of mutual interest.
Consistent with the vision of the two leaderships, special focus would be attached to strengthening economic ties between Pakistan and Iran . In this context, the existing potential of bilateral trade would be reinforced through initiatives aimed at enhancing physical connectivity between the sides. A number of MoUs on cooperation in various fields would also be signed during the visit with a view to institutionalising mutually beneficial cooperation.
“A peaceful neighbourhood remains a key priority of the government. Iran is an important pivot in this policy. The visit of the prime minister to Iran would not only provide a political affirmation to our bilateral relations, but would also set a forward trajectory for their future course,” it was stated in the media release from Prime Minister’s Office.
INP adds: The Pakistani and Iranian naval forces staged joint naval drills in the Northern waters of Indian Ocean to promote military cooperation between the two armies.
During the one-day drills, the naval forces rehearsed different types of military and tactical formations of vessels and submarines. The Iranian naval fleet present in the exercises comprised Falakhon (Sling) and Khanjar (Dagger) missile boats, Hendijan and Deylam replenishment ships as well as a Ghadir midget submarine, the Iranian media said.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that 5 submarines and warships of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy berthed in Pakistan on Friday.
 Early in April, Pakistan and Iran started their joint naval exercises in the Persian Gulf.
The Pakistan and Iranian naval forces began their joint drills in the Eastern waters of the Strait of Hormuz with the message of peace and friendship.