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Pakistan, Iran agree to boost border security after incident

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/05/2017 By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and Iran reached an agreement Wednesday to strengthen security along their shared border after last week's incident when gunmen killed 10 Iranian border guards, officials said.

The border is frequently used by drug smugglers and Islamic militants, both of whom have attacked border patrols in the past. Iranian media blamed last week's attack on "terrorists," without providing details.

On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Islamabad for talks with Pakistani leadership. In meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, he also raised the issue of the border incident, officials said.

According to an Interior Ministry statement, both sides agreed to bolster border security through "better coordination, greater intelligence sharing and frequent interactions" among political and security officials. They also agreed in principle to revive a hotline between their border forces to coordinate activities, it said.

Sharif expressed condolences over the killing of Iranian guards. His office said Sharif and Zarif also discussed issues of peace and stability in the region.

Last month, Raheel Sharif, an ex-Pakistani army chief, took his post as the chief of a Saudi-led military alliance committed to fighting terror. Iran, a Shiite rival of the Sunni power Saudi Arabia, is not part of the alliance.

Pakistan has said it will not take part in any action against Muslim countries. In 2015, Islamabad rejected a Saudi request to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen's Shiite rebels known as Houthis. The conflict is widely seen as a proxy Saudi-Iran war.

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