Foreign Minister’s meeting with the EU High Representative/Vice President on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey

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Rasheed Ahmed;

Brussels,(Parliament Times): Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President (HR/VP) of the European Commission Josep Borrell met on the side-lines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on June 18. The two leaders discussed the entire spectrum of Pakistan-EU relations as well as global and regional situation, including the Afghan peace process and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The Foreign Minister underscored that Pakistan-EU relations had further strengthened with the implementation of the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), signed in June 2019. He maintained that the SEP had ushered in a new era in bilateral ties and provided a solid architecture for multi-dimensional cooperation. Emphasizing the importance of bilateral trade, the Foreign Minister highlighted that GSP Plus had been a mutually beneficial undertaking and played an important role in the growth of trade between the two sides. He reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment towards the GSP Plus preferential trade regime and effective implementation of the twenty-seven related international conventions.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the Covid-19 Pandemic. Appreciating the EU’s support, the Foreign Minister delineated the steps taken by Pakistan to effectively tackle the situation. The Foreign Minister also briefed on Pakistan’s progress towards the comprehensive implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan and sought the EU’s support in the review process. The Foreign Minister emphasized that at a time of rising Islamophobia, racism and populism, the international community must show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief.

In the regional context, the Foreign Minister briefed on Pakistan’s vital contributions to the Afghan peace process and stressed that the conflict could only be settled through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process. Both sides urged all Afghan factions to seize the historic opportunity presented by the current peace process to settle the conflict through political means. The Foreign Minister emphasized the need for continued engagement of the international community after withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. The two sides agreed to cooperate in facilitating the peace process, resettlement of Afghan refugees, preserving the socio-political gains of the past two decades and supporting Afghanistan post-withdrawal. The Foreign Minister also briefed the HR/VP on the continued precarious human rights and security situation in IIOJ&K and the latest moves by the Indian government to perpetuate its illegal occupation. He urged the EU side to take note of the systemic and gross human rights violations in IIOJK and play its role for resolution of the dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. EU HR/VP Borrell shared his concern on the prevailing situation in the IIOJ&K. The two leaders agreed to continue to maintain high level engagement to further strengthen Pakistan-EU relations. EU HR/VP Borrell extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a working visit to Brussels. The Foreign Minister reiterated invitation to the High Representative to visit Pakistan.