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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi concluded a highly successful visit to New York during which he attended the special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Palestine; held meetings with his counterparts from other countries as well as senior UN leadership on the situation in Palestine; and interacted with the members of the Pakistani community; representatives of Pakistani and international media; as well as members of the U.S. Congress. The Foreign Minister reached New York from Turkey on 19 May along with the Foreign Ministers of Palestine, Turkey, and Tunisia. After his arrival, he hosted a working dinner of the Foreign Ministers and representatives of the OIC countries to consult and make collective efforts to halt Israeli provocation and aggression against innocent civilians in occupied Palestinian territories, ahead of the UN General Assembly's special meeting.

On 20 May, the Foreign Minister addressed the special meeting of the UN General Assembly and expressed the people of Pakistan's deep anguish and strong outrage against Israel's provocation against Al-Aqsa Mosque, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israel against Palestinian civilians; its grave human rights violations; and continuing illegal actions in contravention of international humanitarian law; international human rights law and relevant UN resolutions.

The Foreign Minister urged the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, to halt Israeli aggression and mobilize all possible humanitarian help, including medical supplies, to deal with the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and other parts of occupied Palestinian territories. He also urged the UN Secretary General to immediately launch a comprehensive humanitarian assistance plan to help the Palestinians.

In his address, the Foreign Minister called on the UN General Assembly to take concrete steps to protect the Palestinians, including through the deployment of an international protection force; hold Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity; revive concrete efforts to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories; dismantle Israel's illegal settlements and the apartheid-like regime; demanded withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied since 1967; and called for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State with pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

On the sidelines, the Foreign Minister held a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, in which he expressed deep gratitude of the people and the Government of Pakistan for the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Palestine issue and for convening an Emergency Meeting of the OIC's Executive Committee at Foreign Ministers' level on 16 May 2021. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also met with the Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait, Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah during which the two Foreign Ministers expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories caused by the Israeli aggression. In his meeting with the UN Secretary General António Guterres, the Foreign Minister expressed deep concern over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories caused by Israeli aggression. He also briefed the UN Secretary General on the serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) including continued illegal incarceration of the Kashmiri political leaders and extra-judicial killings. He urged the UN Secretary General to use his good offices to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council Resolutions. The Foreign Minister held a meeting with the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, in which he thanked him for his proactive leadership in convening the UN General Assembly meeting to discuss the situation in Palestine, and conveyed the entire Pakistani nation's strong sense of outrage at Israel's use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against innocent Palestinians. Briefing him on the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in IIOJK, the Foreign Minister called for the resolution of the festering dispute of Jammu & Kashmir for lasting peace in South Asia.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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