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US warns of sanctions risk as Pakistan inks deals with Iran

US warns of sanctions risk as Pakistan inks deals with Iran
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April 25, 2024 (MLN): The US has warned of sanctions risks for Pakistan after the government in Islamabad signed security and economic deals with Iran during a visit by President Ebrahim Raisi to the South Asian country, as Bloomberg reported.

“We advise anyone considering business deals with Iran to be aware of the potential risk of sanctions,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington Tuesday. “Ultimately, the Government of Pakistan can speak to their own foreign policy pursuits.”

The warnings came as Washington imposed sanctions last week on suppliers to Pakistan’s ballistic missile program, which included four based in China and Belarus.

Patel said on the sanctions that the US will continue to “disrupt” and take action against proliferation networks and weapons of mass destruction.

Pakistan has been looking to revive a project to build a gas pipeline from Iran, which has been delayed for decades due to the risk of sanctions from the US.

Last month, Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu said in a congressional hearing that the Biden administration will uphold all sanctions related to Iran when he was asked about the Pakistan-Iran pipeline.

Pakistan plans to request for a sanctions waiver on the pipeline.

In a joint statement on Wednesday released after Raisi left Pakistan, both countries agreed on the “importance of cooperation in the energy domain,” including the gas pipeline project.

“The US will certainly not like Pakistan and Iran to come closer,” said Shaista Tabassum, a professor at the University of Karachi.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Raisi witnessed the signing of eight agreements in Islamabad, including the setting up of a special economic zone, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

The two countries are looking to repair ties after firing missiles at each other in January to target militant hideouts on either side of their shared border.

Raisi said in a news conference on Monday that Pakistan and Iran needed to boost bilateral trade to about $10 billion in the next three to four years.

This week, Iran and Pakistan agreed to ban terror groups operating on each other’s soil, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said in a separate statement.

Raisi, the first Iranian president to visit Islamabad in eight years, concluded his visit on Wednesday.

His visit was an “attempt to reaffirm ties and reestablish a warm relationship,” said Madiha Afzal, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution.

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Posted on: 2024-04-25T10:21:34+05:00