ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Maldivian President Abdullah Yamin Abdul Gayoom met on Thursday at Prime Minister House in Islamabad.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, President Abdullah Yamin said that relations between Pakistan and Maldives have spanned for more than 49 years during which Pakistan had proven itself as a sincere friend.
He thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the people of Pakistan for according him a warm welcome.
PM Nawaz said that Pakistan attaches immense importance to its relations with Maldives and added that, “Our relations are characterised by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of interest.”
He regarded the visit of President Gayoom as an important milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The premier said Pakistan is aware of Maldives’ concerns on climate and environmental issues and is willing to cooperate on these issues bilaterally with Maldives as well as under the ambit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
The premier said both Pakistan and Maldives must continue to closely coordinate their positions on the platform of Saarc with an aim to make it a model of regional cooperation, based on the principles of sovereign equality.
PM Nawaz said bilateral trade between Pakistan and Maldives is below the true potential and emphasised that steps should be taken to increase it.
Gayoom said the Parliament building of Maldives, ‘The People’s Majlis’ is a living monument of friendship between the people of Pakistan and Maldives. Pakistan had built the Parliament building as a gift to Maldives.
The premier fondly recalled his visit to Maldives in 1996 for the inauguration of the Parliament building. The two countries also signed four MoUs relating to Sports, Health, Education, and Narcotics, which would help in further consolidating bilateral relations.
MoU on Cooperation of Combating Illicit Trafficking and Abuse of Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors
MoU on Bilateral Cooperation in the field of Sports
Memorandum of Understanding on Health
Memorandum of Understanding between Pakistan and Maldives in the field of Education
A one-on-one meeting between the Maldivian president and PM Nawaz was followed by a delegation level meeting during which a whole range of matters of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation came under discussion including tourism, trade, investment, counter terrorism, human resource training, defence as well as regional situation.
Earlier on his arrival at Prime Minister House, the Maldivian president was accorded a warm reception.
He was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after a contingent of armed forces presented him a guard of honour.
Australian foreign minister meets army chief
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met Army Chief General Raheel Sharif at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and discussed issues relating to defence and security — including Afghanistan and regional security.
|Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meets Army Chief General Raheel at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. — Photo courtesy: ISPR|
During the meeting, Bishop lauded the services of Pakistan's armed forces in the war against terrorism and assured Australia's full cooperation to Pakistan in countering terrorism.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) briefed Julie Bishop about the progress and achievements of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists.
She was also apprised that Pakistan and Afghanistan are closely cooperating in the war against terrorism, and that forces of both sides have conducted coordinated operations along the Pak-Afghan border.
Bishop appreciated growing understanding and cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul. She said Pakistan's role in peace and stability of Afghanistan is very important.
Australian Foreign Minister meets PM
Earlier during the day, Foreign Minister of Australia Ms Julie Bishop also met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Prime Minister House.
During the meeting PM Nawaz said that Pakistan and Australia enjoy close and cooperative relations in all fields and he wished to strengthen them in the years to come.
Ms Bishop informed the premier that this is her first visit to Pakistan after becoming foreign minister.
She appreciated the government's reform agenda which has resulted in economic growth and increased job opportunities across the country.
PM Nawaz said, "All economic indicators of the country are quite encouraging. Our growth rate is increasing gradually, which we expect to go further up in the coming years. Foreign exchange reserves have almost doubled during the tenure of this government. Stock market is one of the best ones in Asia; industry is growing and agriculture sector is showing positive signs with good wheat and cotton crops," he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan's economy has suffered badly at the hands of terrorism which is why the decision to to launch an operation against terrorists had been taken.
He further said that, "The operation is going on successfully and has almost eliminated their network, hideouts and sanctuaries. Those who kill innocent people do not deserve any mercy."
"Over the years, thousands of lives have been laid down in this cause and will not rest until we completely eliminate the entire network of terrorists and their abettors," he added.
The visiting foreign minister said, "There is lot of potential that is yet to be realised, especially among the business communities of the two countries as well as exchange of high-level delegations, people-to-people contact and parliamentary exchanges. "
Nawaz appreciated the support and cooperation of the Australian government, including that for the Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs).
He said Pakistan's industry is suffering due to lack of energy and the government is taking urgent steps to meet the shortage. Nawaz also expressed confidence that power outages would be done away with during the tenure of his government.
Ms Bishop thanked Pakistan for extending cooperation to Australia in important fields of counter terrorism as well as efforts to eliminate drug trafficking, trans-national crime, human smuggling and organised crime.
PM Nawaz said Pakistan would be pleased to extend more cooperation in all these fields.
Bishop said Australia hopes that initiatives taken by the PM would help improve relations between India and Pakistan leading to resolution of long outstanding disputes.
She also invited the premier to visit Australia at a time of his convenience proposing to bring along a business delegation so that the focus of the visit remains strengthening of economic and trade ties.
Matters relating to regional situation also came under discussion.
The premier asked her to convey his greetings to the Australian Prime Minister.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Azaz Ahmed Chaudhry also attended the meeting.
Australia's High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr. Peter Heyward was also present during the meeting.