TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan began his first official visit to Iran on Sunday for talks set to focus on strengthening ties and countering terrorism.
Khan began his two-day visit with a stop in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Iran's second largest and home to the shrine of Imam Reza (AS), state television said in a live broadcast.
After visiting the shrine, Khan was to fly to Tehran where on Monday he is expected to hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani and other top officials.
The IRNA news agency said Khan's trip was expected to help "develop ties between the two countries, especially those related to regional cooperation in fighting terrorism and safeguarding borders".
Iran and Pakistan share a long border that runs nears the volatile southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan which has witnessed over the years numerous attacks on Iran's security forces.
In March, Rouhani demanded Pakistan act "decisively against anti-Iranian terrorists", following a February attack that martyred 27 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the province.
Iran has said a Pakistani suicide bomber was behind the attack, which was claimed by the terrorist Jaish al-Adl group, operating mostly out of bases in Pakistan.
Khan's visit to Iran, the first since he took office last year, also comes days after gunmen killed 14 members of Pakistan's security forces in the Balochistan province.
On Saturday Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Islamabad had evidence the "terrorist outfits" that carried out the attack have "training and logistic camps inside Iranian areas bordering Pakistan".
Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif condemned the attack. "Terrorists, extremists & their sponsors are terrified by close relations between Muslim states," Zarif said in a post on his official Twitter account on Friday.
Qureshi also briefed the media on steps taken by the country to strengthen security along its porous border with Iran.
He said Pakistan had already taken "six steps” to ensure stability along the Iran border as part of a project dubbed the "border of peace”.
A new command has been formed in the Pakistani city of Turbat to improve the effectiveness of border guards deployment in the area while a new Frontier Corps will be responsible for smooth management of the border, he added.
Qureshi also said Iran and Pakistan had already started setting up joint border centers while agreeing to synchronize border patrolling exercises and carry out heli-surveillance to prevent incidents like those in the past that have affected security in the region.
Meanwhile, an Iranian organization representing the families of Iranian victims of terrorism pleaded with Prime Minister Khan to enact stricter security measures on Pakistan’s border with Iran to prevent Pakistani-based terrorists from attempting attacks on Iranian territory.
The Habilian Association made the plea in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Khan on Saturday.
The letter cited the martyrdom of scores of Iranian border guards at the hands of the terrorists over the past several years.
"Abusing the current situation and the lack of serious border control, terrorist groups enter Iran from time to time, perpetrating sabotage and [acts of] terror before freely returning to the other side,” it read. "These actions have been continua