Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) of the European Union marked a new era in bilateral ties and provided a solid architecture for multidimensional cooperation.
Talking to EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey, Qureshi stressed that Pakistan-EU relations had further strengthened with the implementation of SEP signed in June 2019.
According to the Foreign Office, the two leaders discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations as well as global and regional situation, including the Afghan peace process and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Emphasising the importance of bilateral trade, the foreign minister highlighted that the Generalised Scheme of Preferences-Plus (GSP+) 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+ regime and effective implementation of the 27 related international conventions. The two leaders also exchanged views on the Covid-19 pandemic. Qureshi delineated the steps taken by Pakistan to effectively tackle the situation.
The foreign minister also briefed the EU high representative about 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.
He emphasised 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 Qureshi briefed Borrell about Pakistan's vital contributions to the Afghan peace process. The foreign minister emphasised 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 EU high representative about the precarious human rights and security situation in the IIOJK 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 the IIOJK and play its role for resolution of the dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Borrell shared his concern on the prevailing situation in the IIOJK. The two leaders agreed to continue to maintain high level engagement to further strengthen Pakistan-EU relations, according to the Foreign Office statement.
Separately, Qureshi also met Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr Riyad Al Maliki. During the meeting he expressed Pakistan's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause and underscored the importance of a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders under the relevant UNSC resolutions.
Foreign Minister Maliki briefed Qureshi on the latest situation in Palestinian occupied territories. He also conveyed deep appreciation on behalf of the Palestinian president and the people to the foreign minister for proactively taking up the case of Palestine at the UN General Assembly.
Qureshi strongly condemned the latest Israeli strikes on Gaza after the recent ceasefire. Both the foreign ministers exchanged views on rising Islamophobia and agreed to the need for evolving a joint strategy to counter discrimination against all religious faiths, particularly against Muslims.