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gilaniISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said Pakistan was committed to playing a facilitator’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process for restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

Talking to Australian Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ric Smith at the PM House he urged the international community to assist Afghanistan and Pakistan achieve this objective.

He said undertaking of mega projects in infrastructure, energy and communication sectors will facilitate connectivity between the two countries and the region beyond.

Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan would like to extend Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) to Central Asia.

The prime minister termed Pakistan’s relations with Australia as important and stressed enhanced people to people contacts, high level visits and parliamentary exchanges between the two countries.

He said it was imperative that both countries look beyond war on terrorism and restoration of peace in Afghanistan to bring permanency and consistency to the bilateral relations.

Gilani said Pakistan was keen to develop strong cooperation with Australia in multi-faceted fields including the social sector, defence and agriculture.

He expressed his government’s gratitude for the generous Australian support to Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake and the floods last year.

While responding to the formal invitation from the prime minister of Australia to attend the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government’s Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth in October, the prime minister asked the special envoy to convey his thanks and best wishes to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

He said he was looking forward to his visit to Perth and interaction with his counterpart and other Australian leadership.

Ric Smith, who had come to Islamabad after his visit to Kabul, congratulated the prime minister for his personal role in substantive improvement of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations during his government’s tenure.

He shared with the prime minister his assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan; the reconciliation process and the planned withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan.

The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s principled stand that a military solution was not an option. All sides will have to seek a political solution with emphasis on socio-economic development in Afghanistan.

He also stated that during his visit to Afghanistan, he noted a new appreciation among Afghan officials as well as ordinary Afghans about Pakistan’s constructive approach to facilitate an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

Ric also felicitated the prime minister for his vision to promote cordial friendly ties with India and for efforts of his government for resumption of dialogue.

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Tim George, Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan Paul Foley, Minister for Interior Senator Rehman A. Malik, Secretary Defence and other senior officers were also present in the meeting.


Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2011


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