By Rasheed Ahmed,
ANTALYA, TURKEY: Saleem Mandviwalla, Deputy Chairman Senate, who is leading a Parliamentary delegation consisting of Senators Mohsin Aziz, Khush Bakht Shujat, Naseebullah Bazai, and Members National Assembly Junaid Akbar and Arbab Amir Ayub to the 3rd Meeting of the Speakers of Eurasia Countries’ Parliaments (MSEAP) had bilateral meetings with the Speaker of Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) Mr. Binali Yildirim, Speaker of the Parliament of Iran Dr. Ali Larijani, Deputy Speaker of the Upper House of the Russian Federation Parliament Mr. Ilyas Umakhanov and Speaker of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mr. Teberruken Ulucay.
In a meeting marked with great warmth and friendship, the Honourable Binali Yildirim, Speaker of TGNA welcomed the Pakistan delegation and reiterated the abiding ties of friendship and brotherhood between the two countries. “Truly speaking, Pakistan is a country that the Turkish nation loves the most among all other countries,” he said. All aspects of Pakistan-Turkey bilateral relations were discussed. He congratulated the people of Pakistan on the successful general elections and hoped to work with the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking Pakistan-Turkey into new heights. Speaker Binali Yildirim observed that the Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement process has to be concluded in an expeditious, fair and win-win basis. He informed that Mr. Ali Shaheen, who is graduate of Karachi University and a great friend of Pakistan, has been appointed Chairman of Turkey-Pakistan Friendship Group in Turkish Parliament, while other members of the friendship group would be announced soon. He also expressed gratitude for the sincere solidarity that Pakistan had shown for Turkish democratic institutions during the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.
Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla thanked Speaker Binali Yildirim for his sentiments and said that Turkey was a true and reliable friend of Pakistan, saying “we cherish this exemplary friendship.” He also thanked Turkey for extending prompt and extensive assistance to Pakistan to deal with natural calamities such as the October 8, 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. He appreciated Turkey’s steadfast support for Pakistan at Financial Action Task Force. He extended Speaker Binali Yidirim a cordial invitation to visit Pakistan.
During meeting with Dr. Ali Larijani, the dignitary congratulated Pakistan on recent elections and conveyed best wishes to the people and Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said that Pakistan was a brother and a friend and Iran had always worked for best of relations with it. He hoped that relations would further improve in all spheres particularly in political and economic field with the coming of the new Government in Pakistan. He recalled that he visited Pakistan to attend Speakers Conference in December 2017 and stated that Iran was planning to host the next conference sometime in December this year.
Deputy Chairman Senate reciprocated the sentiments conveyed by Dr. Ali Larijani and said that Pakistan does not consider Iran to be a foreign country. Pakistan has deep rooted historical, cultural and religious ties with Iran. He stressed that Pakistan was desirous of enhancing economic ties and in this regard both countries may explore avenues including a look at existing projects including in the energy sector. Speaker Larijani also stressed the need for completion of such projects and for finding ways and means to allow the two countries to do business.
In a wide-ranging conversation between Saleem Mandviwallah and Ilyas Umakhanov, both sides conducted an overview of bilateral relations, particularly parliamentary relations. Russian Deputy Speaker felicitated Pakistan on the successful elections and hoped to further improve existing ties with the new government. Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla mentioned various measures taken by both sides to enhance economic relations. He also had an in-depth discussion on the MSEAP forum, its possible future direction and how Pakistan could contribute to it.
In the meeting with Speaker of TRNC Mr. Teberruken Ulucay, the two sides discussed the need to enhance business and trade relations. Speaker Ulucay took the opportunity to brief Saleem Mandviwalla of the status of efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.