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Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani talks with Sultan Assad Bin Tariq Al-Said Special Representative of Sultan Qaboos, during meeting in Muscat on Monday. – Photo by PPI

MUSCAT: Pakistan and Oman agreed on Monday to work for closer collaboration in defence, labour and manpower and between private sectors.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani met Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id at the latter’s palace here and discussed regional situation and measures taken by Pakistan to meet the economic and security challenges posed by terrorism and extremism.

They agreed to implement the decisions taken by a Joint Ministerial Commission in March this year and asked their foreign ministers to meet soon for the purpose.

The delegation Mr Gilani is leading to the Sultanate includes Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Ghauri, and Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.

The two sides also discussed measures to increase cooperation between their armed forces in defence procurement, joint exercises, training and exchange of delegations.

Prime Minister Gilani and Sultan Qaboos also exchanged views on regional issues including Afghanistan, India, Iran, Iraq and Palestine. There was unanimity of views on Iran’s right to pursue its peaceful nuclear energy programme. They agreed that sanctions were not a solution.

Both sides also agreed that the issue of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land should be resolved without any delay. They called for an end to Gaza siege and said that new settlements would be of no help because both sides needed to co-exist peacefully.

Sultan Qaboos said he recognised the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation. Mr Gilani said Pakistan supported Afghanistan’s peace and stability.

On Pakistan’s relations with India, the Sultan said that fraternal ties between the two countries were in the region’s interest. He endorsed Prime Minister Gilani’s call for composite dialogue for resolving all outstanding issues.

The prime minister noted that trade between the two countries was around $286 million dollars in 2009-10 and there was a wide scope for expanding it several times.

They noted that bilateral trade had risen from $8 million in 2004-05 to $331 million in 2008-09 and called for several new areas identified by the two sides to be tapped.Both sides agreed that the Labour and Training Agreement between the two countries should be signed in near future.

Mr Gilani pointed out that Pakistani manpower in Oman had risen from 65,000 in 2005 to around 175,000 at present. He offered services of more skilled personnel including engineers, doctors, IT professionals, accountants and paramedics.

Sultan Qaboos said Oman would welcome more skilled manpower from Pakistan and expressed satisfaction over the level of contribution made by Pakistani expatriates.

The prime minister pointed out that remittances from Oman had increased from $130 million to $287 million in five years.

GWADAR:     Prime Minister Gilani proposed that a cargo service be started between Gwadar and Muscat. Sultan Qaboos welcomed the proposal and said it would be considered.He said Pakistan and Oman had important historical and geographical links with trade activities between Gwadar and Muscat. Sultan Qaboos, during his visit to Pakistan in 2001, Sultan Qaboos had announced a grant of $100 million, of which $64 million was allocated for development of Balochistan.

An amount of $17.5 million was earmarked for the Gwadar International Airport.—APP