ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Austria on Friday identified areas for further cooperation in the fields of politics, trade, investment, education and culture during the 4th round of bilateral political consultations in Vienna.
“The two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and identified areas for further cooperation,” said a press release issued here. The Pakistani delegation was led by Additional Secretary (Europe) Zaheer A Janjua, while the Austrian delegation was headed by Gabriele Meon-Tschurtz, Head of Asia Division at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Janjua highlighted the progress made by Pakistan in strengthening democracy and human rights as well as economic growth. He invited the Austrian companies to benefit from Pakistan's investor-friendly policies, particularly in the areas of energy, information and communication technology, oil and gas, water and waste management, tourism and agriculture.
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He briefed the Austrian side on the situation in South Asia, notably the Indian aggression and Pakistan's measured response. “Pakistan has also taken several steps to de-escalate the situation, including release of the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace, reactivation of hotline between directors general of military operations, return of Pakistan's High Commissioner to New Delhi and convening of the meeting in connection with opening of Kartarpur Corridor,” he said.
He added that Pakistan had renewed its offer of dialogue to India to address all outstanding issues. In the context of deteriorating situation and gross violations of human rights in the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK), the additional secretary urged Austria to speak out against such abuses which had been documented in various international reports, including that of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
He also briefed the Austrian side about Pakistan's efforts aimed at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, including talks between the US and the Taliban. Reiterating that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, he emphasised that a politically-negotiated settlement, led and owned by the Afghans, was the only viable way forward.
The Austrian side appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to defuse and de-escalate the situation and expressed support for Pakistan's constructive role in the Afghan peace process. Both sides expressed satisfaction on the cooperation between them at the international fora, including the UN and the European Union, and agreed to continue supporting each other.
“Pakistan considers Austria an important country in the European Union. The consultations provided a useful opportunity to take stock of the overall relations and discuss ways and means to further enhance cooperation in diverse fields,” the press release said. The next round of bilateral consultations would be held in Islamabad in 2020.