Rouhani offers help to Pakistan in energy sector

Islamabad, March 27 (IANS) Visiting Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on Saturday offered cooperation to the energy-starved Pakistan in oil and gas sector.

Speaking at a gathering of Pakistani and Iranian businessmen in Islamabad, Rouhani said that enhanced bilateral economic relations would be helpful for regional stability and security.

Pakistan Prime Nawaz Sharif said bilateral trade will be increased up to $5 billion in five years from the current around $1 billion.

The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the “Five Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan” that seeks establishment of a mechanism to cope with issues hampering bilateral trade such as non-tariff barriers, lack of banking facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks and trade through informal channels.

Pakistan and Iran also signed an agreement to increase cooperation between central banks of the two countries.

In the area of energy, gas, oil, Iran can help Pakistan in realizing its economic development and prosperity. In the area of technical engineering services, Iran has the capability to help Pakistan with infrastructure construction, including roads, railways and dams, Rouhani said.

He pointed out that the economic relations between the two countries can be a major element for regional stability and security.

Rouhani said that Iran would be responsible for the provision of Pakistan’s energy security and has fulfilled its responsibility in the area of electricity and gas.

The Iranian president also praised the sacrifices of the Pakistani forces and the people in the war against terrorism.

In his speech, Sharif said the two countries have decided to open two new border crossing points between them to boost trade and economic activities and facilitate people-to-people contacts.

He hoped that the additional crossing points would greatly reduce the travel time and contribute to economic integration of the region.

Speaking during a press conference in Islamabad, the Iranian president said Iran has completed work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline on its side, calling for connectivity of the Pakistani Gwadar port with the Iranian ports, adding the Gwadar port would benefit the whole region.

He supported the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying that connecting the Gwadar port to China through rail link would also be an important project for regional development.

On Afghanistan, Rouhani said that trilateral mechanism of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran could play a key role in peace and stability in Afghanistan.

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