ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed on further deepening bilateral trade and economic cooperation including in the field of energy, the Foreign Office said. The understanding was reached during a meeting of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Niamey on Friday.
Qureshi is in Niger for attending the 47th Session of the OIC's CFM being held from 27-28 November 2020 and representatives of 57 OIC member states and five observer states are attending the meeting.
In a statement here, the Foreign Office said that Foreign Minister Qureshi apprised his Saudi counterpart of the continuing grave situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
"He [Qureshi] thanked the Saudi foreign minister for the Kingdom's principled and steadfast support for the just cause of Kashmir," it added. It further stated that Prince Faisal underscored the importance that Saudi Arabia attaches to its fraternal and strategic relationship with Pakistan.
He conveyed Saudi Arabia's appreciation for the role played by Pakistan in maintaining regional peace and stability, it added. The two sides agreed to have high-level exchanges to promote bilateral cooperation in relevant fields.
During the meeting, it added that views were exchanged on bilateral relations, regional issues, cooperation at multilateral fora, and the Covid-19 situation. It further stated that Foreign Minister Qureshi also extended felicitations to the Saudi leadership on successful convening of the G-20 Summit.
He underscored that the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was deep-rooted and long-standing.
"The two sides agreed on further deepening bilateral trade and economic cooperation including in the field of energy," it stated, adding that the two foreign ministers discussed the OIC's importance as the vital platform for Muslim Ummah and its role in the advancement of the Kashmir cause.
Meanwhile, through a tweet, the Foreign Office also appreciated the opening statements of foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Niger for highlighting the Kashmir dispute.
"Jammu & Kashmir dispute resonates in Opening Plenary of 47th CFM in Niger. Deeply appreciate new Chair Niger's FM Ankourao, Chair of 14th Islamic Summit, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan and Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu (speaking on behalf of Asian Group) for highlighting J&K dispute in their statements," the Foreign Office stated in a brief statement on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Qureshi had a bilateral meeting with his Afghan counterpart Haneef Atmar on the sidelines of the OIC's CFM.
During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on Afghan peace process and measures to further strengthen Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations, according to a Foreign Office statement.
Qureshi extended condolences to his Afghan counterpart over recent terrorist attacks in Kabul and Bamiyan, and reiterated Pakistan's condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
He also stressed the importance of reduction in violence leading to ceasefire to save lives and advance peace efforts. Referring to the recent successful visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Kabul, Qureshi conveyed that Pakistan remained committed to deepening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
The foreign minister underlined that the understandings reached during the visit and the 'Shared Vision' issued by the two sides will help take this process forward.
Reiterating Pakistan's steadfast commitment to the Afghan peace process, the foreign minister conveyed that Pakistan will continue to facilitate the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
Noting the recent progress in Intra-Afghan negotiations, he also emphasised the need to remain vigilant about the role of 'spoilers' who did not wish to see return of peace in the region.
Qureshi stressed that peace negotiations represented a historic opportunity, which must be seized by the Afghan leadership to establish enduring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
The foreign minister also underlined the need to utilise the tremendous potential in the economic and commercial fields, which could be exploited by securing peace in Afghanistan and enhancing regional connectivity.
The foreign minister further underscored that the Afghan peace process offered the opportunity for return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.
Appreciating Pakistan's sincere efforts in support of the Afghan peace process, the foreign minister of Afghanistan expressed gratitude for the prime minister's visit to Kabul and its important outcomes.
He also thanked Foreign Minister Qureshi for his participation in the Geneva Conference and reaffirmation of Pakistan's support for reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan. While reaffirming resolve to closely follow-up on the prime minister's visit to Kabul, the two foreign ministers agreed to pursue cooperation in relevant fields under the agreed mechanism of APAPPS.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020