FM Bilawal reaches Iran on maiden visit

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reached Iran on a two-day visit on Tuesday, where he will hold talks with Iranian dignitaries on a range of issues, including bilateral ties, trade, regional security and Islamophobia.

This is Bilawal’s first official visit to Iran. He is visiting the country at the invitation of Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian, who welcomed him upon his arrival in the neighbouring country.

State-run APP shared a video of Bilawal sitting with Abdollahian and other dignitaries soon after his arrival.


Earlier, a statement by the Foreign Office said Bilawal would also call upon Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other dignitaries during the trip and would visit the Mashhad city on June 15 (tomorrow).

Delegation-level tallks

The FO statement said Bilawal was to share views with his Iranian counterpart on all areas of mutual interest.

It added that in delegation-level talks during the visit, “the two sides will review all facets of bilateral relations, including trade and economic ties, electricity supply from Iran, border sustenance markets, road and rail connectivity, and facilitation of Zaireen”.

“They will also review regional security situation with particular focus on developments in Afghanistan and South Asia, as well as combating Islamophobia,” the statement added.

According to the FO, Bilawal’s visit to Iran is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries. “The last meeting between the two foreign ministers was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos on 26 May 2022.”

In concluding remarks, the FO statement highlighted that “Pakistan and Iran enjoy close cooperative ties, based on shared geography, cultural affinities, and historic people-to-people linkages. These fraternal relations have been further strengthened through frequent high-level exchanges. The two countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2022”.

Bilawal looks to enhance economic cooperation

Bilawal had shared similar views with the official Iranian news outlet IRNA a day before leaving for Iran, during an informal talk with journalists.

“Iran is our neighbour and in Islam, neighbours have rights. We believe that relations between [the] people of Pakistan and Iran, including cultural and spiritual, are historic,” he had said.

The foreign minister had added that economic cooperation and coordination between the two countries had much potential to be explored and exploited.

On the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline project, Bilawal said: “Its foundation was laid by former president Asif Ali Zardari and we would want international obligations, their framework and the deal to progress so that we can unlock the potential in our relations further.”

Pakistan wants to construct a 1,100-kilometre gas pipeline, known as the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project, from Port Qasim in Karachi, in Sindh, to Kasur in Punjab. The $2.5 billion project is tentatively slated to begin next year, though an initial agreement was first signed in 2015 and a second in 2021.

Bilawal also expressed these views during an interview with Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) hours before leaving for the two-day trip.

He said that “facilitating trade and exploiting the true potentials of Iran and Pakistan is important for us” and that he looked forward to improving and enhancing the relationship between the two countries.

The foreign minister elaborated that Pakistan wanted to enhance its economic activity with all countries and “we are focusing on economic diplomacy as you have mentioned there has been a lot of cooperation in the past with Iran and we look forward to enhancing this cooperation”.

“We want to enhance progress on border markets and go a long way to facilitate commercial activity on both ends and I am looking forward to having meaningful conversations with my counterparts to unlock the true potential of the economic relationship,” he added.

Moreover, IRNA quoted him as saying, that there was a lot more potential for both sides to enhance tourism.

“And I am really hoping that we will be able to discuss these issues, enhance the modes and means of transport between the two countries, and encourage not only, obviously religious and spiritual tourism between the two countries. but also economic tourism and people-to-people activities.”

On Afghanistan, he said: “I think the situation in Afghanistan is on everyone’s mind, particularly those of us who are in the region or in the neighbourhood who are directly impacted by the developments in Afghanistan, and I am sure I would have deep meaningful conversations on this topic as well.”

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