ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said it would use both bilateral tracks and multilateral arrangements to strengthen its ties with South East Asian countries.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underscored this during a meeting with the Islamabad-based envoys of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The Foreign Office in a read-out on the meeting said that consistent with the government’s ‘Vision East Asia’ policy, Pakistan was committed to strengthening Pakistan-Asean partnership in all dimensions.
Mr Mahmood in his meeting with the Asean envoys underscored the importance of closer cooperation in political, economic, security, tourism, education and cultural domains.
Pakistan, he said, recognised Asean’s centrality in the regional architecture.
Mr Mahmood recounted the steps taken by Pakistan to enhance engagement with Asean and the commitment to deepen trade and economic linkages with Asean member states.
The foreign secretary said that these actions were in line with Pakistan’s economic diplomacy initiative and consistent with the leadership’s emphasis on geo-economics.
“The vast potential in trade, mutual investments, security and defence cooperation, tourism, education, and culture was discussed during the meeting,” the FO said.
During the meeting, the FO said, it was agreed to optimally utilise the bilateral and Asean-wide institutional mechanisms and to explore the possibilities presented by far-reaching initiatives, like the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The meeting was attended by the heads of missions of Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2021