Islamabad proposed a new framework at the foreign ministers level between Pakistan and Iraq to deepen bilateral cooperation, officials said on Saturday after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s talks with Iraqi leadership in Baghdad.
Qureshi is on a three-day visit to Iraq where he held talks with both the Iraqi President and the Prime minister, an official handout issued by the Foreign Office said. The discussions focused on how to deepen bilateral cooperation in different fields.
In order to institutionalise the bilateral cooperation, Foreign Minister Qureshi, the statement said, “proposed that the two countries should develop an overarching framework of political consultations and bilateral cooperation at the foreign ministers level to provide impetus to deepening and strengthening mutually beneficial partnership”.
The Iraqi president and prime minister welcomed the idea, in principle, the statement added. The foreign minister conveyed warm wishes to President Dr Barham Salih from Pakistan’s leadership. He affirmed Pakistan’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
Acknowledging the unyielding efforts and sacrifices of Iraq, and its people, in the fight against terrorism, the foreign minister wished peace, progress and prosperity for the brotherly people of Iraq.
President Salih warmly welcomed the foreign minister and reciprocated the feelings expressed on behalf of the Pakistani leadership. He thanked the foreign minister for Pakistan’s understanding and support.
Qureshi briefed the president on Pakistan’s transformed vision centred around economic security, shifting focus from geo-politics to geo-economics. He outlined Pakistan’s desire to offer itself as an economic hub through peace, development partnerships and connectivity.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s long-standing and friendly ties with Iraq, Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s desire to further enhance existing bilateral ties in all spheres of cooperation. He offered Pakistan’s support and cooperation for Iraq’s efforts toward rebuilding and strengthening the country.
The president agreed that the two countries needed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in mutually beneficial areas. Appreciating Prime Minister Imran Khan’s environmental initiatives, he hoped for greater cooperation in this field.
The foreign minister and the president also discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest. Qureshi briefed the president on the situation in South Asia, in particular Pakistan’s approach towards the issues and disputes with India, Pakistan’s consistent support for the Afghan peace process, and Pakistan’s steadfast diplomatic support for the just cause of Palestine. He also highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to promote solidarity among the Muslim Ummah.
Foreign Minister Qureshi is undertaking a three-day bilateral visit to Iraq, at the invitation of his Iraqi counterpart. During the visit, he will hold extensive discussions with important dignitaries in Iraq, on bilateral cooperation and important regional and global issues.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister also met Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi during which he appreciated the resilience of the Iraqi people in facing serious challenges to peace and security.
Paying tribute to the sacrifices rendered by Iraqi people in the fight against terrorism, he said that the two countries could benefit from sharing experience and expertise in this area. Qureshi expressed confidence that with able leadership, unyielding efforts and sincere friends, Iraq will overcome any challenge to emerge stronger and more prosperous in future.
The foreign minister stressed that the purpose of his visit was to translate Pakistan’s existing friendly relationship with Iraq into a collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership across diverse fields. In this regard, he briefed the Iraqi prime minister on Pakistan’s focus on building connectivity and economic diplomacy.
The foreign minister identified areas, such as tourism, manpower export, infrastructure development, investment and food security, in which the two countries could significantly benefit from enhanced cooperation.
He also expressed Pakistan’s desire to meet its energy requirements with oil from Iraq. He laid special emphasis on the need to further strengthen people-to-people linkages, particularly facilitating thousands of Pakistani Zaireen, who visit Iraq every year.
Agreeing to the potential of cooperation between the two countries, Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi expressed Iraq’s interest in cooperation in health sector, as well as the possibility of utilising Pakistan’s health facilities for Iraqi people. He urged the foreign ministers of both countries to explore tangible collaboration in this field.
Discussing regional and global issues of mutual interest, the foreign minister apprised the prime minister of the deteriorating situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and stressed the need for resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
He also briefed Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi about Pakistan’s efforts to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, in particular the Afghan peace process, as well as Pakistan’s principled position on the issue of Palestine.
The foreign minister thanked the prime minister for accepting the invitation by Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Pakistan. He hoped that the visit will take place at the earliest convenience.