Iran's leader urges boost of ties with Pakistan

# 12 May 2014 17:24 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Iran and Pakistan should seize opportunities for enhancing bilateral relations, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said here on Monday as the Pakistani prime minister visits the Islamic republic, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The current level of economic cooperation between Iran and Pakistan is not satisfactory, Khamenei told visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "We should not miss great chances for enhancement of bilateral relations."

Joint economic projects, including the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, should be re-activated, the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying.

"We hope relations between the two countries improve significantly during your term in office," he told the Pakistani premier.

For his part, Sharif said he would do his "utmost to enhance bilateral economic volume to 3 billion U.S. dollars and to revitalize the joint gas pipeline project," according to IRNA.

The pipeline, agreed upon last year, stretches from the border between the two countries to Navabshah region in Pakistan and covers 781 km of its total length of 1,881 kilometers. Iran has already built 900 km of the pipeline on its soil.

The pipeline, projected to cost about 1.5 billion dollars, would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iran's natural gas to Pakistan on a daily basis. However, under U.S. sanction over Iran's controversial nuclear program, Pakistan has so far not launched its end of implementing the project.

Khamenei said the United States and certain countries favor division between Iran and Pakistan and that the two countries should not let that happen.

Sharif's two-day visit, which started on Sunday, is the first Pakistani leadership level visit since the formation of new Iranian government in August 2013.