Kayhan Int’l Political Desk
TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Monday described relations between Iran and Pakistan as "wholehearted and deep” which have "serious enemies”.
"Good relations are in the interest of both countries, but these relationships have serious enemies that must be strengthened in different areas,” the Leader told Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan here.
The Leader touched on historical bonds between the two countries, saying "the height of the glory of the Indian subcontinent was during the reign of Muslims.”
Meanwhile, "the greatest impact of British colonialists in this important region was to destroy the prominent Islamic civilization,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
The Leader further hailed Pakistan’s luminaries, including prominent poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal and the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He said security issues between Iran and Pakistan are important.
"The terrorist groups that are the source of insecurity on the borders are fed with the money and weapons of the enemies, and one of the aims of counter-security moves on the borders of Iran and Pakistan is to contaminate relations between the two countries,” the Leader said.
Prime Minister Khan, for his part, described his talks with Iranian officials in Tehran as "good”, saying many of issues between the two countries were resolved.
He said certain sides did not like Pakistan and Iran to get closer. "We are striving to strengthen relations between the two countries and to continue the ongoing contacts with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Tasnim quoted him as saying.
Earlier, Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan will not participate in any coalition against Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said, as they agreed to form a joint rapid reaction force to combat terrorists on their shared border.
Khan arrived in Iran on Sunday to discuss security and regional issues on his first Tehran visit which is hoped to start a new chapter in historic relations between the neighbors.
"We agreed to increase the security cooperation of the two countries, our border forces, our intelligence forces,” Rouhani said during a joint conference, which was broadcast live on national TV. "And also to form a joint quick reaction force on the border of the two countries for fighting terrorism.”
Khan said that militant activity at the border could be a source of tension.
"The most important reason why I’m here, Mr. President, is because I felt that the issue of terrorism was going to ... increase differences between our countries,” Khan said. "So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue.”
A new umbrella group representing various terrorist groups operating in Baluchistan claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses in the province, which borders Iran.
Iran says militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and has repeatedly called on Islamabad to crack down on them.
Tehran has stepped up security along its long border with Pakistan after a suicide bomber martyred 27 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in mid-February in southeastern Iran, with Iranian officials saying the attackers were based inside Pakistan.
Ahead of Khan’s visit, families of several Iranian border guards martyred by terrorist groups wrote to the Pakistani premier and asked him to take swift action against groups freely crossing into Iran from Pakistan.
Iran had in the past urged Pakistan to address the issue, even offering to launch a joint military and intelligence operation to locate and eliminate terrorists in Pakistani territories.
"Unfortunately, over the past few months we witnessed some tensions caused by some terrorists who acted savagely,” President Rouhani said.
"We are glad that the Pakistani side now recognizes groups with such inhumane conduct as terrorist and treats them as such.”
Rouhani said his meeting with Prime Minister Khan marked a new milestone in mutual ties, adding Iran and Pakistan would continue to maintain their close ties despite outside pressures.
"Both sides agree that no third country whatsoever can affect the friendly and brotherly ties that exist between Iran and Pakistan,” he said, adding that Khan had officially invited him for a visit to Islamabad.
According to Rouhani, they also agreed on the need for both sides to expand joint efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.
Other security issues discussed in the meeting included U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization and his recognition of Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, Rouhani noted.
Addressing reports about Saudi and U.S. pressure on Pakistan to join an Arab-Israeli front against Iran in the region, Rouhani said PM Khan had assured him that Pakistan "has never joined and will never join any coalition.”
Rouhani also said Iran was ready to supply oil and gas to Pakistan and increase electricity exports to the country by ten-fold.
He also said Tehran was interested in expanding trade between Iran’s Chabahar and Pakistan’s Gawader ports by connecting them with a railway.
The president noted that Iran, Turkey and Pakistan as co-founders of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) could increase economic cooperation by connecting their railway systems. This, he said, would open a corridor from Europe to China.
Khan and his high-profile delegation touched down in Tehran on Sunday night after a brief stop in the northeastern city of Mashhad, where the premier paid a visit to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Shia Imam.