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DUSHANBE (Tajikistan): Pakistan on Wednesday assured Tajikistan to make utmost efforts for the early completion of CASA-1000 project as an effective plan for management of energy and water resources.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a joint press conference with his Tajik counterpart Sirajuddin Mehruddin in Dushanbe said Pakistan believed that CASA-1000 would not only benefit the two countries, but the entire region.

Launched in 2016, the under-construction Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) power project, will allow the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and finally to Pakistan. Qureshi said CASA-1000 project would improve electricity access, integrate and expand markets to increase trade, and find sustainable solutions to water resources management.

He said he was pleased to learn through Foreign Minister Mehruddin that Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani “stressed the need for a tripartite transit trade agreement among Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

He said Pakistan on its part would pursue the matter of tripartite agreement with the Afghan leadership for the benefit of three countries.

He expressed satisfaction that bilateral relations with Tajikistan had strengthened with time in line with the two joint declarations of 2017 and 2018 to promote cooperation.

He said in a meeting with his Tajik counterpart, it was agreed to renew the spirit of the existing roadmap for bilateral co-operation and also decided to activate the Joint Working Groups and the Intergovernmental Commission. Qureshi invited the influential businessmen from both countries to strengthen trade relations and offered to facilitate the Tajik investors. He said both Pakistan and Tajikistan had fought the menace of terrorism and expressed satisfaction over the defence cooperation.

He expressed pleasure that about 200 Tajik military officers had received military training in Pakistan and offered assistance on more capacity-building defence and diplomatic courses.

Tajik Foreign Minister Sirajuddin Mehruddin terming the meeting with Qureshi a “meaningful dialogue” said it focused on important global and regional issues.

He said Pakistan's commitment to the CASA-1000 energy project was “commendable” and hoped that its completion would further strengthen relations between the two countries.

The two sides discussed economic co-operation, air links, security co-operation and bilateral cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, technology cooperation and education.

The two sides stressed the need to increase bilateral trade volume to enhance trade relations between the two countries.

Earlier during the meeting, Foreign Minister Qureshi invited Tajikistan to benefit from Pakistan’s Gwadar port as the shortest trade route to Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Qureshi emphasized on tapping the immense trade potential existing between the two countries.

Gwadar and Pakistan’s other seaports could help boost bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Tajikistan, he said.

He said Pakistan and Tajikistan enjoyed fraternal relations based on common religious and cultural values.

He congratulated the Tajik foreign minister on successful hosting of 9th Heart of Asia Istanbul Process Conference.

The two sides hoped that the holding of the fifth Bilateral Political Consultative Meeting between Pakistan and Tajikistan would pave the way for the promotion of cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Earlier, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirajuddin Meharuddin warmly welcomed Foreign Minister Qureshi and his delegation including Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood and Pakistan's Ambassador to Tajikistan Imran Haider and senior officials of the Pakistani embassy.

The two foreign ministers led delegation-level talks between their respective delegations that focused on various issues of mutual interest including bilateral relations and bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.

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