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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Italy on Wednesday agreed to work together to further deepen mutual cooperation in the multilateral arena, as well as enhance cooperation in various areas.

The two sides held the fifth round of Pakistan-Italy Annual Bilateral Political Consultations virtually in which Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood led the Pakistan side, while Secretary General of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni led the Italian delegation.

“Entire spectrum of bilateral relations including fight against the pandemic; political, trade and economic relations; energy; defence; migration and people-to-people exchanges were reviewed during the Consultations. Views were also exchanged on regional and global issues,” the Foreign Office said in a statement after the meeting.

Agreeing that Pakistan and Italy have exemplary relations based on mutual trust and principles of cooperation, the two sides resolved to further expand the relationship in all dimensions, it added.

The foreign secretary expressed condolences over loss of lives in Italy due to Covid-19 and commended the efforts of the Italian Government in containing the pandemic.

He briefed his counterpart on the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan to control the second wave of Covid-19, while saving lives, securing livelihoods, and stimulating the economy.

The two sides exchanged views on the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and discussed ways of mitigating the adverse effects.

The foreign secretary also briefed the Italian side on the vast investment opportunities and avenues in Pakistan and assured that Italian companies and investors will be fully facilitated in all sectors.

He thanked the Italian side for its support on GSP Plus status for Pakistan with the European Union.

The foreign secretary emphasized the need to increase business-to-business interface as soon as the Covid situation subsides.

The foreign secretary highlighted the importance of strong Pakistani diaspora in Italy, which acts as a bridge between the two countries.

He appreciated Pakistan’s re-inclusion in the seasonal visa program and non-seasonal work visas, and stated that the two sides should work together to streamline matters related to migration.

The foreign secretary briefed on the grave human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and the attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.

He stressed that the international community must take full cognisance of the deteriorating situation in the IIOJK and support peaceful settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

With regard to Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underlined that there was no military solution to the conflict and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward.

He highlighted Pakistan’s positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and stressed the importance for the Afghan stakeholders to seize this historic opportunity to secure durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The foreign secretary underlined the need for reduction of violence leading to ceasefire and the imperative of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.

The foreign secretary congratulated Italy on assuming Presidency of G-20 and co-Presidency of COP-26.

The two sides expressed satisfaction on existing strong cooperation at international fora, in particular at the United Nations, including on the issue of Security Council Reforms. They agreed to work together to further deepen mutual cooperation in the multilateral arena.

It was also agreed that the next round of Bilateral Political Consultations will be held next year on mutually agreed dates.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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