ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iraq on Monday agreed to cement bilateral ties and promote cooperation in diverse fields and signed two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) — one on visa waiver for diplomatic and official passport holders and the other to promote cultural cooperation.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein made this announcement during a joint press conference on Monday.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari is on a three-day official visit to Baghdad.
The two FMs earlier during delegation-level talks agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in various fields.
Bilawal, Fuad vow to boost defence, cultural, economic relations
FM Bhutto-Zardari told the presser his visit to Baghdad “aims to strengthen relations”, noting that “Iraq and Pakistan have contributed to supporting peace in the region”.
“We look forward to opening a centre for visitors in the holy city of Karbala,” he added.
‘A true friend’
Terming Iraq ‘a true friend’ of Pakistan, he reiterated the hope to reinvigorate fraternal ties and transform them into mutually beneficial economic relations.
He acknowledged that similar to Pakistan, Iraqi nation had shown exemplary resilience, steadfastness, and resoluteness in combating terrorism and defeating this scourge. “Our two nations have made great sacrifices in achieving this victory, fruits of which are being enjoyed by the region and beyond,” he remarked.
He said both countries had always stood by each other at the multilateral forums. “We have good flourishing defence cooperation, contributing towards our shared objectives for peace, stability and security. It is time to rebuild, come out stronger than ever and transform our countries into progressive nation states,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said his visit would pave the way for enhancing people-to-people contact especially between the private sector, media, academia and researchers.
Speaking at the press conference, Iraqi FM Hussein said relations with Pakistan were strong and the two sides also discussed defence cooperation at the meeting.
He indicated the signing of an MoU in near future on facilitating Pakistani visitors to the holy places in Iraq.
Later, Mr Bhutto-Zardari in tweet said both sides signed important MoUs and resolved to unlock “huge potential in dynamic bilateral cooperation”. He also expressed gratitude to the government of Iraq for its support in opening of Pakistan consulate in Najaf.
Meeting with president
Later, the foreign minister in a meeting with Iraqi President Dr Abdul Latif Rashid discussed the existing bilateral relations and agreed to expand mutually beneficial cooperation.
Also in a tweet, Mr Bhutto-Zardari wrote he resolved in the meeting to take relations between Pakistan and Iraq “to new heights and expand cooperation in diverse areas, including sharing expertise on water, agriculture and reinforcing defense cooperation and bilateral trade”.
Iraqi President Abdullatif Jamal Rashid expressed the desire to consolidate relations with Pakistan, and the need to benefit from experiences in the field of combating extremism and terrorism,“ referring to “Iraq’s role in fighting the terrorist ISIS gangs that invaded many countries, including Iraq, and destroyed many urban and cultural landmarks and infrastructure. “The unity of Iraqis and the valour of security forces in all its formations contributed to defeating these gangs and fragmenting their remnants,” he said.
He also discussed “the stability of the security situation in Iraqi cities and governorates, and the move towards the government’s implementation of its ambitious programme that is in the service of the people, as more efforts are being made to approve the budget and start implementing building and reconstruction projects and addressing drought, desertification and water scarcity.”
Also, Mr Bhutto-Zardari called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and “discussed a broad range of issues, including enhancing bilateral trade, convening of joint ministerial commission, rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure, connectivity, pilgrims and enhancing people-to-people and business contacts”.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2023