Pakistan, EU enter multifaceted strategic dialogue

Published Jun 05, 2012 01:30pm

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, left, shakes hand with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, right, prior to their meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Ashton is in Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani leaders aimed at promoting trade ties and expanding anti-terror cooperation. -AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and European Union (EU) have entered into a multifaceted strategic dialogue to promote socio-economic development and enhance investment in different fields including health and education.

Addressing a joint press conference here at Foreign Office on Tuesday with EU’s head of foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that the EU is a strong supporter of a democratic set up in Pakistan.

She said, “Currently we have 4.6 billion Euros trade with EU which we want to enhance to Euros 8 billion” adding Pakistan wants more access to EU market and thanked the EU for extending help in this regard.

She said that Pakistan's progress is pivotal for regional progress.

Ashton commended Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terror and assured that the EU will extend full cooperation and assistance to Pakistan in this regard.

Earlier, the first Pak-EU strategic dialogue was held at the Foreign Office in which Pakistan's delegation was led by Khar while the EU delegation was led by Ashton.

Foreign Minister Khar expressed appreciation for the package of Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATPs) for Pakistan offered by the EU in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 floods.

High representative EU Ashton conveyed that the process was nearing completion in Brussels, and the package would be implemented soon.

They also discussed the GSP+ scheme and Foreign Minister Khar hoped that Pakistan could be considered for this favourable trading scheme in 2014.

The Dialogue provided an opportunity to review EU development cooperation including the broad parameters of the second EU multi- annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for 2007-2013, which included projects for rural development and natural resource management, education and human resource management, governance and human rights, and trade development.

Ashton welcomed the steps Pakistan had taken in implementing its international human rights commitments in national laws in many important areas, including the rights of women and establishment of an independent Human Rights Commission. Both sides agreed to work closely in this regard.

Pakistan’s foreign minister reiterated that Pakistan was committed to holding free and fair elections in accordance with the Constitution.

Ashton confirmed that the European Union was willing to send an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Pakistan for the forthcoming elections.

Pakistan and the EU reaffirmed their shared commitment to work together to combat terrorism.

The two sides agreed to the establishment of Pak-EU Steering Committee on Counter-terrorism to enhance the existing close cooperation on counter-terrorism.

They underlined the importance of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support for an Afghan- led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.

They also underscored the need for the sustained commitment of the international community during the transformation phase in Afghanistan, and agreed to continue working closely in this regard.

The EU High Representative also expressed support for the ongoing and result-oriented dialogue between Pakistan and India, including the significant progress on liberalizing trade.

The two sides agreed that the second round of the Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue would be held in Brussels at mutually convenient dates next year.


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