ISLAMABAD: Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Thursday said Italy was on “same page” with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and was ready for close cooperation in counter-terrorism.
In a joint press conference with Advisor to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz here at the Foreign Office, following their meeting, the Italian foreign minister said Italy and Pakistan had a defence agreement in place since 2009 and were exchanging expertise and sharing information in fighting terrorism.
The Italian foreign minister expressed condolences on behalf of the Italian government over the incidents of terrorism that took place in Pakistan over the years.
He said stabilization of Afghanistan was in the strategic interest of Pakistan and added that Italy had a strong commitment to eliminate terrorism after 9/11.
Paolo Gentiloni said one of the key elements in stabilizing Afghanistan, was the political and diplomatic solution.
He said the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) could pave the way for political solution to the Afghan issue and stressed that the this exercise required strong commitment by all member countries.
He said the success of Daesh in Iraq and Syria should not give new ways to its establishment in Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere.
Italian foreign minister termed his meeting with Sartaj Aziz as “very useful” and mentioned that bilateral relations were making satisfactory strides.
He said the one billion euro bilateral trade reflected that Italy was one of the ten main economic partners of Pakistan and emphasized on strengthening it further.
He said the discussion also focused on the potentiality of giving value to the resources of agricultural food chain and sharing know-how in machinery, dedicated to agriculture and textile sectors.
Sartaj Aziz said his meeting with the Italian counterpart was a good opportunity to intensify efforts for strengthening bilateral trade.
He mentioned that the Pak-Italy Economic Commission, formed in 2006 with six working groups, was taking positive steps in this regard.
He said the two sides also agreed on formation of a Cultural Forum.
When asked if the bomb blast in Lahore on Easter was Pakistan’s incapability to protect minorities, Sartaj Aziz said the incident was a blowback by the terrorists in reaction to the operation against them.
He said the terrorists were looking for soft targets and stressed that the incident should be put in correct perspective.
He dismissed the impression that the State was not protecting the minorities and said the country’s Constitution guaranteed the protection of minorities without any discrimination of caste and creed.
The Foreign Minister Paolo said Italy was interested in close cooperation with Pakistan in diverse sectors including trade and culture to further strengthen their bilateral ties.
He expressed satisfaction over the formation of cultural forum, adding the two countries had strong cultural linkages with the presence of big Pakistani community in Italy.
He mentioned that the discussion also focused on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), terming the project not only important for Pakistan and China but also for other states.