By: Ali Hussain
Pakistan and Italy on Thursday agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations and enhance cooperation in diverse fields, particularly economy, trade, defence and culture.
This was agreed at a meeting between Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and the visiting Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, here at Foreign Office.
Speaking at a joint news conference along with the Advisor, the Italian Foreign Minister described the talks as useful and productive, adding that the two countries are working together in several sectors, but there is need to further build on these relations.
He said that Italy was one of the major economic partners of Pakistan and the two sides were looking towards promoting relations in different sectors including, agriculture, food chains and textile.
The Italian Foreign Minister pointed out that one billion euro bilateral trade reflected that his country was one of the 10 main economic partners of Pakistan and emphasised on strengthening it further.
He said that the two countries had common views on many international issues including on the reforms and expansion of the UN Security Council and the democratic role of the UN.
About war against terrorism, the Italian Foreign Minister said that his country was on the ‘same page’ with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and was ready for close cooperation in counter-terrorism.
He pointed out that Italy and Pakistan had a defence agreement in place since 2009 and the two countries were exchanging expertise and intelligence sharing in fighting terrorism.
He said that the two sides were also co-operating in Afghanistan for stabilisation of that country which is Pakistan’s close neighbour, adding that peace and stability in Afghanistan was in the strategic interest of Pakistan.
He pointed out that one of the key elements in stabilising Afghanistan was the political and diplomatic solution. He further said that Italy had a strong commitment to eliminate terrorism after 9/11 incident.
Referring to the four-nation Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group (QCG) peace process, he expressed the optimism that the process could pave the way for political solution to the Afghan issue, adding that the process requires strong commitment by all member countries.
He said the success of coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria should not give the militant organisation space in any other country like Afghanistan and Libya.
He said that his discussions with the Adviser also covered the economic corridor projects which will not only benefit Pakistan but also other countries.
Referring to various terrorist attacks in Pakistan, he also expressed condolences on behalf of the Italian government over the incidents of terrorism.
Earlier, welcoming the visiting Italian Foreign Minister, Adviser to the Prime Minister said that it was a good time to intensify efforts for further collaboration as both the countries had witnessed economic growth and stability over the past few years.
He said that the two countries had a number of mechanisms including a joint economic commission since 2006 which is holding meetings for the last 10 years.
Aziz said that the two countries had also agreed to establish Pakistan-Italy Cultural Forum to provide umbrella to all cultural activities. He said the two countries were committed to promote defence cooperation under the defence agreement of 2009.
During his talks, he said that the two sides exchanged views on entire range of relations including political, defence, cultural, economic and trade. He said that Italy was Pakistan’s third largest trading partner in the European Union.
To a question, the Adviser rejected the impression that Pakistan was not protecting its minorities, adding the country’s Constitution guarantees protection of minorities without any discrimination of caste and creed. He said that the recent terrorist attack in Lahore Park was just a blowback of the ongoing successful military operations against the terrorists.
Source: Business Recorder