Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met Pakistan’s finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, at the 18th Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission (JEC) on Wednesday. The JEC also discussed cooperation between the two countries in banking, education, energy, agriculture and a host of other fields.
The two ministers discussed the setting up of a branch of Iran’s largest commercial bank, Bank Melli in Pakistan. Tehran is trying to expand its financial institutions against efforts by Western powers to impose sanctions against Iran’s financial sector. The bank is under UN watch-list since 2008 although it has not yet been blacklisted. Pakistan-Iran trade volume has declined from $1,170 million during 2009-2010 timeframe to $586 million thus far in 2011.
The two sides also updated each other on the progress of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, expected to be completed by 2014.