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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to strengthen cooperation in diverse fields through continued close collaboration on all issues of common interest, including Afghanistan.

This was agreed during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

"The two foreign ministers exchanged views on the latest situation in Afghanistan and also discussed a number of issues of bilateral importance," according to a statement of the Foreign Office.

While talking to him, Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the current chair of the OIC Summit, for convening the OIC's extraordinary meeting at the level of Permanent Representatives on August 22, 2021 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Qureshi underlined that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region. In this perspective, he expressed the hope that Afghan parties would work for an inclusive political settlement to ensure sustainable peace and security in the country and the region.

He stressed the importance of international community's active and sustained engagement with the Afghan people. The foreign minister also apprised his Saudi counterpart of Pakistan's efforts to facilitate the evacuation of personnel and staff of diplomatic missions, international organisations, media and others from Afghanistan.

In the bilateral context, the two foreign ministers reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during the visit of the Saudi foreign minister to Pakistan in July 2021.

"Expressing satisfaction at the growing momentum in bilateral relations, the two foreign ministers agreed further to strengthen cooperation in diverse fields. The two foreign ministers also agreed to continue close collaboration on all issues of common interest," the statement added.

Meanwhile, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde telephoned Foreign Minister Qureshi.

According to a Foreign Office statement, the foreign minister apprised the Swedish foreign minister of Pakistan's perspective on the latest developments in Afghanistan. He added that in the last few days, he had been in touch with several European and other foreign ministers to exchange views on Afghanistan.

He underlined that no other country wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan more than Pakistan. He added that Pakistan had consistently advocated for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan as the best way forward and had been supporting efforts in that direction.

The foreign minister emphasised that the immediate priority was to ensure safety, security, and protection of rights of all Afghans. He said that as a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan was fully facilitating several European countries, international organisations and media agencies to evacuate their nationals/employees and others from Afghanistan.

Pakistan's efforts have been widely acknowledged, he added. Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted the importance of international community's sustained engagement with Afghanistan.

"International community must show solidarity and support with the people of Afghanistan, both in the humanitarian arena and economic sustenance," Qureshi added.

Qureshi informed Foreign Minister Ann Linde of his upcoming visit to neighbouring countries of Afghanistan to consult them on the developing situation. Foreign Minister Linde conveyed her government's deep appreciation for Pakistan's assistance in the evacuation of Swedish Embassy staff and others from Kabul.

"Both the foreign ministers expressed the resolve further to strengthen bilateral relations in all spheres especially in trade, education and innovation," it added.

The foreign minister extended an invitation to his Swedish counterpart to visit Pakistan at an appropriate time. The two foreign ministers agreed to remain in contact, it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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