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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Italy have expressed the resolve to make joint efforts for strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

The two sides held delegation-level talks, here on Monday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which Italian side was represented by their Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Pakistani delegation was led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to a statement of the Foreign Office, the talks covered the latest developments in Afghanistan and bilateral relations.

Foreign Minister Qureshi shared Pakistan's perspective on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Stressing the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region, he highlighted Pakistan's efforts for regional peace, security, and stability.

Qureshi underlined that it was vital to support the Afghan people at this critical juncture.

He emphasised the importance of stabilising the security situation in Afghanistan, preserving the peace, and preventing any mass exodus of Afghans as refugees.

The foreign minister underscored the need for the international community to enhance engagement with Afghanistan with positive messaging and through constructive actions.

In particular, he emphasised the imperatives of addressing the urgent humanitarian needs and ensuring economic stability of Afghanistan.

Qureshi also apprised the visiting Italian foreign minister of his interactions with the leadership of the immediate neighbouring states of Afghanistan and efforts to evolve a coordinated approach.

Noting Pakistan's facilitation of evacuation operations, the foreign minister reiterated support for Italy's endeavours.

In the bilateral context, Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined the importance Pakistan attached to its relationship with Italy and affirmed the desire to further expand mutual cooperation in all fields.

He also expressed satisfaction at close cooperation between the two countries in the multilateral fora, including the European Union and the United Nations.

Qureshi also thanked the Italian foreign minister for his country's support to Pakistan extending the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus by the EU and at the platform of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

According to the statement, the foreign minister invited the Italian foreign minister to visit Pakistan for the Second Ministerial Review under the Strategic Engagement Plan.

"Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio thanked Pakistan for supporting Italy's evacuation efforts and also noted the important role of Pakistan in support of efforts for regional peace and stability," the statement stated, adding that he also expressed Italy's resolve to strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors including trade, investments, energy, higher education and people-to-people exchanges.

"Italy is home to one of the largest Pakistani diasporas in Europe. The two countries closely collaborate bilaterally, in the context of EU, and at the United Nations, especially on the issue of UN Security Council reforms," the statement added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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