Pakistan-Iran To Increase Defense, Economic Cooperation As US-Iran Talks Loom

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Context
05-12-2012_PNS_Shamsheer_1According to media reports President Zardari is planning to visit Iran starting December 7. The purpose of the trip is to finalize the details of financing the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project and to discuss the Afghan reconciliation. The two leaders also recently met at the D8 summit in Islamabad.

During his visit, President Ahmedinejad told Pakistani media that Iran has completed the infrastructure for the pipeline and the delay is mostly on Pakistan’s side. Iran has also offered Pakistan $500 million in loans and financial assistance for completion of the pipeline. In the past, US has strongly opposed the project and has instead pushed Pakistan to focus on the TAPI project.

On the other hand, a delegation of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, headed by Alaeddin Borojourdi, also visited Pakistan on December 3rd. He held talks with the Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defense and Defense Production, Mushahid Hussain Syed.

According to Senator Mushahid Hussain, Iran and Pakistan have common views and concerns on the Afghan reconciliation. “It is imperative that Pakistan and Iran work closely in the wake of the US pullout from Afghanistan by 2014,” Mushahid commented. Moreover, the decision was also made to increase cooperation and coordination between the defense ministries of the two countries.

Mushahid Hussain also offered support to Iran by stating that Pakistan rejects double standard on Iranian nuclear program, and that the issue should be resolved peacefully and without threats of force or intervention.

These dramatic developments have not gone unnoticed. Israeli media reported on December 3rd, the presence of a Pakistan nuclear armed naval ship Shamshir, at Port Sudan. According to news, the ship was to rendezvous with two Iranian vessels and conduct drills on the Red Sea. However, the alarming joint maneuver was averted under pressure from US, including Saudi Arabia and Israel.

These events took place as there are increasing indications that US and Iran will be holding direct talks. Some analysts believe that Iran is attempting to strengthen its leverages before these talks.