New York: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi attended the 25th Informal Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization today, held on the sidelines of the seventy-third session of the UNGA.
The Foreign Minister, while recognizing the importance of the ECO platform, said Pakistan enjoys fraternal and brotherly relations with ECO member countries. These relations can be further strengthened with regional connectivity projects. In this regard the Minister highlighted CPEC as a great example of connectivity.
The Foreign Minister, referring to the last 13th ECO Summit held in Islamabad in 2017 with the theme of “Connectivity for Regional Prosperity” underscored Pakistan’s priority for energy connectivity. He referred to the fact that some countries in the ECO region were energy deficient while others were energy surplus. There was thus a greater need to initiate energy projects. He also referred to projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI in which Pakistan was already participating.
In order to strengthen trade ties, the Foreign Minister supported revisiting the ECO trade agreement, which was aimed at promoting trade liberalization within the ECO region. He also supported strengthening ECO Transit Trade Framework Agreement, which would enable the region to function as a bridge between the North and the South, Europe and Asia.
The Foreign Minister also stated that in order to supplement transit agreements, Pakistan was upgrading its rail and infrastructure to facilitate smooth flow of goods with its neighbours. He further added that the Istanbul-Tehran-Istanbul corridor and the Pakistan-Iran-Turkmenistan rail link were being made functional.
Foreign Minister Qureshi informed the meeting that out of Pakistan’s pledge of US$ 5 million to the ECO fund for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, an amount of US$ 2 million had already been paid to the ECO.
Foreign Minister Qureshi Meets President World Bank
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a meeting with President World Bank Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the 73rd UNGA session. The focus of the meeting was the World Bank’s role in implementation of the Indus Water Treaty as its Administrator. The Foreign Minister presented Pakistan’s position on the Kishan Ganga and Ratle projects in a forceful and emphatic manner.
The Foreign Minister said, Indian construction of these projects represented a violation of the Treaty, which gave Pakistan exclusive rights to western rivers. He emphasized that the procedural delay on Pakistan’s request to the World Bank to empanel the Court of Arbitration had resulted in completion of the Kishan Ganga Projects while construction work on Ratle was in progress. He said that the new government viewed this as a humanitarian issue with lives and livelihood of millions at stake. It was not interested in politicizing the issue.
The President of the World bank said, while he understood Pakistan’s position on the Treaty, he expressed the Bank’s desire to play a constructive role in resolving this important matter at the earliest. He remarked that, with the ongoing challenge of climate change, water issues were likely to be more prominent on the international agenda. He indicated that the World Bank was in the process of finalizing a fresh initiative and would soon be approaching Pakistan and India with details.
The meeting was conducted in a cordial and frank setting. Both sides resolved to maintain regular contacts at various levels to seek an early and amicable settlement to the issue.
Meeting of the Foreign Minister with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait
As part of his bilateral engagements on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, today.
Commending the excellent bilateral relations, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister stressed that existing structured cooperation mechanisms in the political and the economic domains have provided a firm institutional basis to maintain this positive trajectory. Expressing the desire to further deepen and broaden this relationship, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister noted that there was immense untapped potential especially in the energy sector.
Reciprocating the goodwill, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi underscored that Pakistan placed high priority to its fraternal relations with Kuwait. This was a relationship marked by close convergence of views on issues on mutual concern including a shared vision for regional peace and stability. The Foreign Minister emphasized the need to further enhance trade and investments in various sectors including agriculture, agro-industries, fisheries and oil exploration in Pakistan. He added that easing visa regimes will contribute to this end.
On invitation by Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, the Foreign Minister consented to visit Kuwait at the earliest. The Foreign Ministers expressed the confidence that such high level visits will provide further impetus to the exemplary relations between the two countries.
*Congressman Joe Wilson calls on Foreign Minister*
Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina, called on Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York today.
Congressman Wilson serves on both the House Foreign Affairs and the House Armed Services Committees.
In the meeting, the Foreign Minister outlined his Government’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. He said the support of young Pakistanis had played a major role in the election victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. A major part of the Government’s wide-ranging development agenda was focused on delivering education, jobs and opportunities to the youth.
Foreign Minister Qureshi also shared Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for a peaceful neighborhood, which was critical to achieving the Government’s ambitious socio-economic plans for Pakistan. He said Pakistan desired a broad based relationship with the United States that was based on mutual trust and respect. Appreciating Congressional assistance for enhancing Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capacity in the past, the Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan had successfully turned the corner in its fight against terrorism at a great cost of human life and resources.
Congressman Wilson congratulated the Foreign Minister on the PTI’s election victory, following a second and historic democratic transition in Pakistan. He emphasized the need for continued cooperation between the two countries for achieving their common objectives in the region.