Pakistan PM Imran Khan visits neighbouring Iran amid strained relations
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Iran for talks following months' of tension, a day after Islamabad urged Tehran to act against militant groups that killed 14 in Pakistan's Balochistan province earlier this week.
Border security as well as regional issues are expected to be on the agenda during Khan’s two-day visit to neighbouring Iran.
"During the meetings, improving bilateral ties, border security, countering terrorism and regional issues will be discussed," Iran's state TV said.
Khan's first visit to Iran since he took office last year began with a stop in the northeastern holy Shia city of Mashhad on Sunday.
He will meet on Monday Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, in addition to other officials in Tehran.
Pakistan's foreign ministry hailed in a statement the bilateral relations between the two countries, saying they are "marked by close historic and cultural linkages and strong people to people exchanges".
"The prime minister's visit to Iran will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries," the statement added.
In recent months, ties between Iran and Pakistan have been tense, with both sides accusing each other of not acting sufficiently to eliminate armed groups purportedly hiding across the border.
A new armed umbrella group representing numerous militant groups operating in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, in which 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses.
Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday the training and logistical camps of the new coalited group that launched the attack were inside Iran and urged Tehran to crack on the militants.
Predominantly Shia Muslim Iran, however, says armed groups operate from Pakistan and has repeatedly called on Islamabad to take action against them.
Tehran has reinforced security along its border with Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 27 members of Tehran's Revolutionary Guard in mid-February in southeastern Iran, with Tehran blaming Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl ("Army of Justice") for the attack.
The Sunni group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) says it demands greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic Baloch minority.