ISLAMABAD — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called for regional connectivity and cooperation to boost economic growth and stability in the south Asian region.
On a two-day state visit to Pakistan which culminated on Saturday, Rouhani met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and held talks on matters of mutual interest including more connectivity between the two countries and a shared role to bring stability in the region.
“One of our main goals has been to have better economic interaction with the rest of the world specially with our friendly countries in the region,” he told reporters in Islamabad at the end of his visit.
“We want to have a corridor between Gwadar and Chahbahar, so that these ports will be connected to each other via railway and also roads and shipping lines,” Rouhani said, adding that the projects would help integrate China into the region.
Pakistan is rapidly working to develop its deep sea port Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, close to Iran, with the help of China which has launched an ambitious $46 billion infrastructure plan to link it with its western city of Kashgar.
Pakistan and Iran also agreed to open two additional border crossings to enhance trade, Rouhani said, adding that they need to improve security on the frontier.
“Our borders have always been secure to Pakistan and Pakistan’s borders should be secure to us too. This is what was agreed by Pakistani officials.”
Sharif and Rouhani also witnessed the signing of six agreements related to trade and economy including a “Five Year Strategic Trade Cooperation Plan.”
At a Pakistan-Iran business forum on Saturday where both leaders spoke, Sharif said the two countries were targeting $5 billion worth of mutual trade by 2021.
“With the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the reemergence of growth in Pakistan the target of $5 billion is within our reach,” he said.