Dialogue only viable option for regional conflicts, says PM Imran

Addressing the trade conference in Colombo, premier says regional countries can jointly eliminate poverty


NEWS DESK February 24, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan meets Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on February 24, 2021

COLOMBO:

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka, has said that Pakistan supports resolving all prevailing regional conflicts through dialogue.

He made these remarks while addressing the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference. Imran and Mahinda Rajapaksa led their business delegations at the conference held in a bid to explore avenues of collaboration in diverse fields.

"Initiating wars gives rise to more disputes," he said and added, "we offered India to holds talks but the country did not pay heed to it," he added.

"Immediately when I came into power, I approached our neighbour India and explained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the way forward for the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue."

The premier said that although he did not succeed, he is “optimistic that eventually sense will prevail”. “The only way the subcontinent can tackle poverty is by improving trade relations.”

He maintained that Islamabad wishes for the Kashmir dispute to be resolved according to the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and “this can be only achieved through dialogue.

Poverty prevailing in the region can be eliminated through investment and profitable businesses. "Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka have remained affected by terrorism, with tourism declining as a result," he observed.

"Better relations between the countries in the region can help achieve the cause of eradicating poverty."

The premier told those in attendance that Pakistan can also play the role of a mediator between the US and China to heal the widening rift between the two countries.

He further elaborated that Pakistan and Sri Lanka could explore the idea of generating wealth through joint business activities and diverting the wealth to alleviate poverty and offered the Sri Lankan businessmen to explore the immense opportunities offered by Pakistan in the form of ease-of-doing-business.

The prime minister maintained that the government would welcome and facilitate investment from the island nation.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in place, Pakistan and Sri Lanka could exploit the potential of enhanced trade.

“We want to make Pakistan an economic hub with a focus on peace, development and activity,” said the foreign minister, adding that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would lead towards prosperity for the entire region.

Also read: It's a pleasure to be back in Sri Lanka: PM Imran

PM Imran meets Sri Lankan president

Prime Minister Imran also met Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today. The premier, during the interaction, emphasized the importance of building robust economic partnership characterised by enhanced bilateral trade, investments, and commercial cooperation.

He also laid emphasis on deeper collaboration in diverse fields — particularly agriculture, tourism, science & technology, sports, education and culture.

The premier stressed the importance of regional cooperation through the platform of SAARC and the opportunities for regional prosperity through CPEC, the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"Both sides reiterated their commitment to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter and stressed the need of SAARC Member countries to build on convergences, for greater good of the people in the region," said a statement.

The prime minister extended a cordial invitation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to visit Pakistan at the earliest convenience.

Pakistan opens $50 million defence credit line facility

During Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit. a new defence credit line facility of $50 million was opened for the government in Colombo, said a communique released by the government at the end of the premier's two-day visit.

"The two sides stressed the need for stronger partnership for supporting and coordinating with each other in dealing with matters related to security, terrorism, organized crime and drug and narcotic trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing."

The statement added that Islamabad and Colombo also expressed satisfaction in the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to defence dialogue has "further provided an opportunity to expand security sector relations".

Premier's meeting with Sri Lankan counterpart on Tuesday

On Tuesday, while sharing details about his meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the premier said, “we had interesting conversations on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.”

During yesterday's meeting, the two leaders affirmed the resolve to strengthen relations in diverse areas during the meeting. The two sides focused on strengthening ties in areas of trade and investment, health, education, agriculture and science & technology, security, culture and tourism.

PM is visiting the island nation at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart. Prime Minister Rajapaksa received Prime Minister Imran upon his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport and the premier was given a guard of honour by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari. The Foreign Office said the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association would also be announced during the visit.

 

Additional input from APP

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