Sharif begins Iran visit

May 12, 2014 - 4:42:52 am
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (left) shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani during their official meeting at the Presidential Palace in Tehran yesterday.

TEHRAN: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani yesterday at the start of a visit during which talks are likely to include border security and a stalled gas pipeline deal.

Sharif and Rowhani met briefly for lunch, and will hold more in-depth talks on “bilateral issues and the expansion of economic cooperation,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

During his two-day visit Sharif, who is accompanied by senior advisers, is also expected to meet supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate authority, media reported.

As he met Sharif, Rowhani said Iran was ready to develop “road and railway networks between the two countries... as well as electric grids” in order to bolster economic ties, IRNA said.

Ties between Islamabad and Tehran have been strained following the announcement in February by the Sharif government that Pakistan was suspending work on a $7.5bn pipeline for Iranian gas exports. Work on the Iranian side is almost complete and Tehran expects Pakistan to finish the project on its side.

IRNA quoted Sharif as saying yesterday that his government “is determined to remove obstacles” in the way of the gas pipeline. He did not elaborate.

IRNA reported that several protocol agreements would be signed during Sharif’s visit. It quoted Rowhani as saying that Iran hoped cooperation with Pakistan would reach “a superior level”. AFP