Ex-Pak PM: No Obstacle to Broader Iran Relations

Ex-Pak PM: No Obstacle to Broader Iran Relations Ex-Pak PM: No Obstacle to Broader Iran Relations

Former Pakistani prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf highlighted the need to revitalize and broaden relations with Iran, especially in trade, adding that the two neighbors see no obstacle to this end.

"Given the removal of sanctions against Iran, we can expand our trade relations with the country, but Tehran should reduce tariffs on Pakistani goods and facilitate economic ties," Ashraf told Fars News Agency on Tuesday.

"After the implementation of nuclear deal [between Iran and world powers], there is no problem for mutual cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in energy, trade, banking, technology and other sectors," he said.

Ashraf referred to Islamabad's relations with Riyadh [which recently cut ties with Tehran], and said, "Relations with Iran is as important as our ties with Saudi Arabia."

Iran and Pakistan have exchanged delegations on a regular basis and the two neighbors are keen to expedite expansion of bilateral ties.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz in a meeting in New York in October called for furthering mutual cooperation on export of gas and electricity.

Zarif and Aziz discussed ways of boosting Iran's export of gas and electricity to Pakistan after the implementation of the nuclear agreement, which came into force in January. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Iran in January to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh to resume friendly ties but he could not help defuse tensions with Iran arguing that it all depends on Riyadh changing course.

"Pakistan is our neighbor and our friend. We have deep-seated relations and they showed interest in playing a role in resolving the problem, and we welcomed the gesture," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, said in January.

Noting that one single trip cannot end up in the resumption of ties between Tehran and Riyadh, the spokesman said, "The goodwill efforts made by friendly and brotherly states such as Pakistan, and Mr. Nawaz Sharif in particular, may succeed if the party which has placed crisis-escalation policy on its agenda agrees to change its policy."