UAE to roll over $2bn loan to Pakistan, country's foreign minister tells Qureshi in meeting

Published April 20, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday. — Photo courtesy Foreign Office Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi meets his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday. — Photo courtesy Foreign Office Twitter

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) decided to roll over a $2 billion loan to Pakistan, the country's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a meeting, the Foreign Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

Besides rolling over the loan, which was deposited by the Abu Dhabi Fund, Nahyan also affirmed UAE's commitment to "extend every possible support to Pakistan".

Qureshi thanked Nahyan for the decision, saying it "reflected the warm and brotherly ties" between the two countries.

In a separate statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said the UAE's decision was "yet another manifestation of the close cooperative relations between the two countries".

"We greatly appreciate the UAE's continued support and cooperation," he added.

Qureshi and his UAE counterpart held detailed discussions on Monday evening after the delegation-level talks during the foreign minister's three-day visit to the Gulf state.

During the meeting, Qureshi emphasised the need to "remove impediments that hamper travel between the two countries" during the meeting.

His comments came a day after Qureshi raised the issue of visa restrictions for Pakistanis in his meeting with the Emirati Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence, Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh a day earlier.

During the meeting, Qureshi and Nahyan reiterated their desire to strengthen ties between Pakistan and UAE, reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and discussed ways to enhance cooperation in diverse areas including trade, investment, infrastructure, energy, technology, tourism and manpower.

Qureshi appreciated the positive contribution of Pakistani citizens residing in the UAE towards development in both countries.

"He emphasised the need for nurturing and strengthening people-to-people linkages, as well as removing impediments that hamper travel between the two countries," the FO statement said.

In November last year, the UAE banned work visas for Pakistani nationals. Although the ban was imposed along with similar restrictions on a number of Muslim countries, Pakistan that heavily relies on remittances from the Emirates was particularly affected.

The restrictions were attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, but many believe that the move was based on security considerations in the aftermath of important geo-political developments that happened towards the end of the last year.

There were also reports of Pakistani expatriates facing difficulties in the renewal of their permits and other instances of discrimination. Some Pakistanis were picked up by the Emirati security agencies.

Qureshi also appreciated the UAE's progress over the last 50 years, attributing it to the country's "sagacious and visionary leadership". The UAE foreign minister acknowledged the "valuable role" played by the Pakistani diaspora in UAE's progress and prosperity.

During the meeting, Qureshi outlined his plans for showcasing the history as well as the future potential of Pakistan-UAE cooperation at Expo 2020 Dubai due to be held in October 2021.

The foreign ministers also exchanged views on regional and international developments, with Qureshi briefing his counterpart on the human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir as well as Pakistan's efforts for the Afghan peace process.

Both ministers agreed to facilitate ministerial-level visits from both sides. Qureshi also extended an invitation to the UAE foreign minister to visit Pakistan which he accepted.

The meeting with the UAE foreign minister was Qureshi's last engagement on his three-day visit to the country.

"In addition to his official engagements, the foreign minister met Pakistan Business Council, members of the Pakistani community, including investors and businessmen, in Dubai and interacted with local and international media in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He also visited Expo 2020 Dubai and the Pakistan pavilion being set up to showcase the potential of Pakistan in the region's biggest-ever exposition organised by the UAE," the FO statement added.

According to the Foreign Office, this was Qureshi's second visit to the UAE in the last five months. He had last visited the UAE in December 2020, during which he had taken up the issue of visa restrictions, apprising his counterpart of the difficulties being faced by the Pakistani community in the UAE and stressing the need for their early resolution.

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