Pakistan, EU agree on long-term partnership in bilateral trade & energy
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Pakistan and the European Union have agreed to be long-term partners in several fields, including bilateral trade, investment and energy.
The understanding came at the fourth round of Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the European Union in Islamabad on Monday.
The Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while the EU by its Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini. Under the agreement, the EU will provide all-out assistance to eliminate terrorism, poverty and promote health and education.
Addressing a joint news conference along with Federica Mogherini, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the engagement plan, which will be formally signed in Brussels, will lay the foundation for a bright future between Pakistan and the European Union.
He said that trade between Pakistan and the European Union had doubled after grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan in 2013. “The present government is keen to enhance exports to Europe and fix the trade deficit issue besides creating more jobs for Pakistanis through trade with Europe.”
The minister said that he had apprised the EU delegation about the steps taken by Pakistan to fulfill FATF commitments as well as the steps taken to cleanse the tribal belt.
He said both the sides also held discussions on the international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). He pointed out that 75 INGOs are registered and working in Pakistan.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he had also informed the EU delegation that Pakistan is open in engaging with India to resolve all out outstanding disputes through a sustained dialogue as it is the only sensible way to go forward. “Both sides are also convinced on it that solution lies only in the dialogue process. Can atomic neighbors think of going to war? This will only be madness,” he said.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan has demonstrated restraint and gave a measured response. “We took various steps to deescalate the tension, including the immediate release of captured Indian pilot. The world is not oblivious to the steps they took including that of sending back our high commissioner to India and restoring the hotline between the military directorates.”
About Afghanistan, he said that the European Union delegation shared Pakistan’s concern for peace and stability in that country. “There is no military solution to the issue of Afghanistan. The EU delegation appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process.”
About Iran, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan informed the EU side that being a nieghbouring country, Iran is very important for Pakistan.
He also reiterated Pakistan’s concern on growing Islamophobia in the West.
Speaking on the occasion, Mogherini said the new Strategic Partnership Plan would lay a strong foundation for partnership between Pakistan and the European Union and further boost their future cooperation. “There was a convergence of beliefs between the two sides on many issues, including Afghanistan. Both sides have agreed to work together in many fields.”
Mogherini appreciated Pakistan’s stance on de-escalating tension with India and crackdown of the Pakistani security forces against the terrorists.
She said the European Union fully supports Pakistan in its drive against the terrorists. The EU representative also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.