TEHRAN - The leadership of Pakistan and Iran on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to expeditiously complete work on the several joint mega projects, including the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, electricity transmission lines and road links.

During meeting of President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad here on the sidelines of the 16th NAM Summit, the two sides discussed matters relating to further cementing bilateral relations, mutual cooperation and the regional situation.

President Zardari expressed his deepest condolences to the Iranian President over the losses that Iran suffered recently due to the earthquake.

Zardari while expressing sympathy with the Iranian people especially the bereaved families over the loss of precious lives, said the resilient Iranian people will overcome this adversity in keeping with its glorious traditions.

He said that Pakistan was ready to provide all possible help to the Iranian brethren to overcome the effects of this disaster.

The President congratulated his counterpart on holding of a successful Summit and expressed the hope that it would contribute significantly in creating better understanding of the challenges confronted by the region and the participating countries.

While discussing bilateral relations, President Zardari noted with satisfaction the upward trajectory of the mutual relations and stressed upon creating viable linkages in the areas of trade and investment, energy and connectivity to bring the two people further closer.

He said that greater interaction between the leadership and the people of the two countries would not only strengthen their historical, cultural and religious bonds but would also help to benefit from each other’s resources and expertise.

Zardari said there was tremendous potential of trade between the two countries and effective steps are needed to be taken to realise the targets that have been set.

He said the current volume of trade between the two countries was far below the existing potential.

The President said that there was a need to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and identify alternative arrangements to expand the bilateral trade.

In this regard the President said that under the barter trade agreement his country looked forward to exporting one million tones of wheat for urea from Iran.

During the meeting, the two sides also reviewed progress on the mega projects, including the Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline, the 1000 mw Taftan-Quetta power transmission line; the 100 mw Gwadar power supply project; construction of Noshki-Dalbandin section of Quetta-Taftan Highway and upgradation of the Quetta-Taftan Railway Track.

The leadership also discussed issues related to visa facilitation and opening of the new border posts at Mand-Pishin and Gabd-Rimdan to connect Karachi and Gawadar with Chah Bahar and Bandar Abbas through the Coastal Highway.

There was unanimity of views on the need to enhance cooperation in the security fields including control of trans-border crimes and movement of narcotic drugs.

The two sides also agreed in principle to operate new flights between Islamabad and Tehran; Peshawar and Mashhad; and Quetta and Gilgit to Mashhad, details of which would be mutually agreed by the relevant authorities.

President Zardari and President Ahmedinejad also agreed upon timely implementation of the decisions reached during Trilateral Summit.

President Zardari said Pakistan was deeply concerned over the fast deteriorating situation in Syria and believed that stability was important for peace in the region and beyond.

He said Pakistan desired immediate end to the bloodshed in Syria and would continue advocating principles of non intervention and non interference in the internal affairs of states.

On Afghanistan, he reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance of supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also attended the meeting.