Pakistan’s location key within Asia, Aziz tells meeting of Asia-Europe ministers

LUXEMBOURG: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan provides a vital link between South Asia and Central and West Asia, as well as to Europe.

Aziz spoke of Pakistan’s significance as he led the Pakistan delegation at the 12th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) that took place in Luxembourg on November 5-6.

In his address, Aziz highlighted several projects undertaken by Pakistan in cooperation with regional states. He referred to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the CASA-1000 and the Torkham-Jalalabad road project.

Aziz urged ASEM members to strengthen connections between Asia and Europe in the fields of education, science and technology, trade, business, security, culture and infrastructure sectors as well as people-to-people contacts.

Speaking at the session, the adviser apprised the meeting of Pakistan’s perspective on important regional and international issues.

He stressed the importance of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process in Afghanistan and also urged the European Union to play a leading role in finding a durable solution to the Palestinian issue.

Underscoring the progress made by Pakistan in countering terrorism, he called for tackling the root causes of the scourge.

Aziz also briefed EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini on positive developments in Pakistan during the past two years. Among these, he referred to the “continuing strengthening of the democratic process”, economic revival and decisive action against terrorism.

The two sides agreed that these developments will improve opportunities for trade and investment in Pakistan. The current level of trade between Pakistan and Europe has crossed $11 billion, especially after Pakistan was granted GSP+ status which has been effective since January 2014.

Mogherini mentioned that a review of GSP+ in the first two years will be conducted in the beginning of 2016 and emphasised the importance of adequate implementation of the requirements for the status, especially adherence to the 27 UN Conventions on Human Rights, labour standards and climate change.

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