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Pakistan, Laos to work for peace

April 24, 2004

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VIENTIANE, April 23: Pakistan and the People's Democratic Republic of Laos agreed on Friday to cooperate in maintaining peace and stability in southeast Asia, south Asia and other regions for promotion and preservation of international peace and security.

A joint statement issued here at the conclusion of Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali's visit to Laos said both countries reaffirmed their commitment to implement the purpose and principles of the UN charter in their bilateral relations and to contribute to peaceful settlement of conflicts and disputes around the globe.

The two sides undertook to further strengthen and develop friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in political, economics and trade fields.

It may be recalled that Mr Jamali paid an official visit to Laos at the invitation of Bounnhang Vorachith, the Prime Minister of Laos, from April 21-23. During his stay, Mr Jamali called on President of Laos Khamtay Siphandone.

During meetings, both sides agreed to exchange ministerial visits to further strengthen relations. They also agreed to cooperate on issues of mutual concern in the UN and other international/ regional fora and set up mechanisms of mutual consultation and cooperation by arranging annual bilateral meetings between two foreign ministries.

To facilitate bilateral interaction both countries agreed to conclude agreements on abolishing visa requirements for diplomatic and official passports. In trade matters, both sides expressed keen desire to diversify content of their bilateral trade, including direct trade. In this context, they agreed to initiate a consultative process for arriving at preferential/zero tariff arrangements.

These steps should gradually lead towards arriving at a free-trade agreement.

MOUs SIGNED: Pakistan and People's Democratic Republic of Laos signed on Friday three memorandums of understanding for setting up a business forum, combating terrorism and holding consultations and cooperation between their foreign ministries.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali and his counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith were present at the signing ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Vorachith said Laos supported Pakistan's entry to the Asean Regional Forum. He said Laos would look into opening an embassy or consulate in Pakistan.

Mr Jamali said Pakistan would soon appoint a honorary consul-general in Laos and later a consulate or embassy.

EU PACT HAILED: Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali has expressed satisfaction on the ratification of the Third Generation Agreement by the European Union Parliament on Thursday.

The prime minister said: "This step would lead to further strengthening of cooperation between Pakistan and the European Union." He said the EU was an important partner and Pakistan had an excellent record of cooperation in many areas with the EU states. -PPI/APP