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Megawati arrives, formal talks today

December 15, 2003

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 14: Indonesia’s President Megawati Sukarnoputri arrived in Pakistan on Sunday for a three-day-long visit that will include talks on economic ties and anti-terror cooperation.

President Megawati’s visit is significant in Pakistan’s efforts to forge closer trade and economic links with the 10- member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). Indonesia currently heads the Asean.

The Indonesian leader, on her first visit to Pakistan, was welcomed at the airport by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and Education Minister Zobaida Jalal.

Officials said the Indonesian leader will hold formal talks with President Pervez Musharraf on Monday besides meeting Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali to explore ways on cementing bilateral ties through increased economic cooperation.

“The visit of the Indonesian president will impart a new momentum to Pakistan-Indonesia relations,” foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said.

The two countries are expected to set up a bilateral business council and to issue a joint declaration against terrorism at the end of the visit, officials said.

The bilateral trade between the countries, the two largest Muslim states in the world, was $350 million in 2002 with the balance heavily in favour of Indonesia.

President Megawati is the first Indonesian leader to visit Pakistan in three years. President Musharraf was in Indonesia after seizing power in 1999.—AFP