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Iran, Pakistan Aim To Boost Trade 

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (right) met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (left) on a two-day trip to Islamabad. (file photo)

The leaders of Pakistan and Iran say they are targeting $5 billion worth of mutual trade by 2021.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced their trade goal as Rohani wrapped up a two-day visit to Islamabad on March 26.

The Iranian president told reporters that the two countries want to connect Pakistan's port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea with Iran's port of Chahbahar, in southeastern Iran, through railway, road, and shipping lines.

Rohani said one of the reasons for this is to help integrate China into the region.

Pakistan and Iran also agreed to open two additional border crossings to enhance trade.

Trade between Pakistan and Iran fell to $432 million in 2010-11 from $1.32 billion in 2008-09, according to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

Part of the drop was due to sanctions imposed by Western powers on Tehran that were aimed at halting a nuclear program they suspected of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb.

Most of the sanctions were lifted in January in return for Iran complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters