ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on Saturday for approving a five-year tax exemption on rice imports from Pakistan.

“Our two brotherly countries will work to promote economic cooperation and connectivity through road, rail and Gwadar port,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

His tweet came in response to Azeri president’s remarks that the decision to import rice from Pakistan with a tax exemption of five years was the outcome of his meetings with Mr Sharif held in the last couple of months.

Mr Aliyev, speaking at an international conference at ADA University in the Azeri capital of Baku a day earlier, said both leaders discussed bilateral relations during these meetings.

He was responding to questions raised by Execu­tive Director of Centre for Global and Strategic Studies of Pakistan Khalid Taimur Akram.

The president said he discussed with Prime Minister Sharif the prospects of intensifying the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and the decision over special regulations for rice from Pakistan reflected that.

“Why should we buy rice from some other place if we have high-quality rice in the brotherly country? So, that decision was clearly based on our brotherly relations,” the Azeri media quoted the president as saying.

Mr Aliyev said his country enjoyed excellent relations with Pakistan. “We are grateful to Pakistan for continuous support it demonstrates with respect to Azerbaijan-Armenia relations,” he said.

He said Pakistan always stood for Azerbaijan and its political and moral support was highly appreciated by the people his country.

He acknowledged that Gwadar port was transforming into a big international hub, and insisted that connecting it with Azerbaijan was not difficult.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022

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