Iran president arrives in Pakistan on Monday


ISLAMABAD:

Iranian President Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi is arriving here on Monday on a visit that the outside world will closely watch against the backdrop of Tehran’s ongoing tensions with Israel.

Despite tensions in the region, the president of Iran has decided to travel to Pakistan, suggesting the importance Tehran attaches to its ties with Islamabad.

The visit was planned before the recent Iran-Israel tensions and was part of efforts to repair ties with Pakistan damaged after the tit-for-tat missile strikes in January.

The Foreign Office on Sunday confirmed the visit of the Iranian President.

“President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will undertake an official visit to Pakistan from 22 to 24 April 2024. This will be the first visit by any Head of State to Pakistan after the general elections in February 2024,” read a statement issued here by the foreign office.

It said the Iranian president will be accompanied by his spouse and a high-level delegation comprising the foreign minister and other members of the cabinet, senior officials as well as a large business delegation. 

During the visit, President Raisi will meet President Asif Zardari and the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, chairman Senate and speaker National Assembly. Raisi will also visit Lahore and Karachi and meet with the provincial leadership.

The two sides will have a wide-ranging agenda to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields including trade, connectivity, energy, agriculture, and people-to-people contacts. They will also discuss regional and global developments and bilateral cooperation to combat the common threat of terrorism.

“Pakistan and Iran enjoy strong bilateral ties anchored in history, culture and religion. This visit provides an important opportunity to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran relations,” remarked FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.  

It is believed that the United States is not happy with the visit of the Iranian president at a time when it is seeking Tehran’s isolation.

However, Pakistan resisted the pressure and informed the US that the visit was planned much before the current tensions in the region.

Just days before the Iranian president’s visit, the US imposed sanctions on four firms including three Chinese companies for allegedly aiding Pakistan’s ballistic and long-range missile program.

Some observers view the US move as a message to Pakistan as it hosts the Iranian president. Pakistan in recent weeks also showed interest in starting work on the long-delayed Iran gas pipeline project.

The US, however, warned that Pakistan’s decision might trigger sanctions. Islamabad has often tried to tread a careful path in maintaining ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

However, officials here feel that this time Saudis don’t have much reservations given their own rapprochement with Iran in recent months.

In March last year, China brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore their diplomatic ties. Since then both countries reopened their diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals.

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