Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrives in Pakistan on a three-day visit

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s historic three-day official visit to Pakistan commenced on Monday, marking the first such visit by any head of state following Pakistan’s February 8 general elections.

Upon his arrival at Islamabad airport, President Raisi was warmly welcomed by Housing Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iran, Mudassir Tipu, according to the Foreign Office (FO).

Accompanied by his spouse and a high-level delegation including the foreign minister and other cabinet members, President Raisi’s visit was initiated at the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari, reported Iran’s news agency, IRNA.

The itinerary includes meetings with various dignitaries, engagements with religious scholars, elites, and business representatives in different Pakistani cities, including Lahore, known as the cultural heart of Pakistan.

Today, President Raisi is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, with plans for delegation-level talks between the two countries. A guard of honour will be presented to the visiting dignitary at the Prime Minister House, followed by a joint participation in an Earth Day event where they will plant a sapling. Additionally, a signing ceremony for memorandums of understanding aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation is scheduled.

The significance of President Raisi’s visit amidst recent Middle East tensions is notable. Despite regional challenges, both Pakistan and Iran are committed to fostering stronger ties. The visit comes as a crucial step towards reconciliation following past hostilities, including cross-border strikes and accusations of sheltering militants.

Of particular economic significance is the joint gas project between Pakistan and Iran, aimed at addressing Pakistan’s longstanding power crisis. The $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, inaugurated in 2013, has faced delays due to international sanctions. However, efforts are underway to expedite the project, including the recent approval of an 80km pipeline section by Pakistan’s outgoing caretaker government.

Despite warnings of potential US sanctions, Pakistan remains committed to the project, which holds promise for alleviating its energy woes.

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