ISLAMABAD: Agence France-Presse Thursday teamed up with Pakistan's largest private news agency to launch the first international Urdu-language news service.
The partnership between AFP and the Online International News Network will provide an average of 50 news, feature, sport and business stories per day from AFP's global output to Urdu clients in India, Pakistan and elsewhere.
“We are confident Online's expertise in the Urdu market and AFP's strong global reputation will be a winning formula,' said Online editor-in-chief Mohsin Baig.
The co-branded Urdu project, part of a global AFP strategy to develop local language services, was launched in response to positive feedback from a trial with Indian and Pakistani newspapers.
AFP already covers the world 24 hours per day in six languages — French, English, Arabic, Spanish, German and Portuguese — and has developed comprehensive output in Chinese and Japanese.
In 2011 a service was started in Bahasa Indonesia, while projects in Thai and Vietnamese are planned for 2012.
“Our Urdu service is an important project for AFP as we want to expand our reach to as wide an audience as possible,” said AFP's chief Asia editor, Phil Chetwynd.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony in Islamabad attended by politicians, editors of major Pakistani newspapers, and executives from media and telecoms groups.
Pakistan and India are key markets for AFP and the agency's multimedia news production is widely used by newspapers, websites, broadcasters and mobile services in both countries.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is also spoken by an estimated 50 million people in India.