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ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Australian parliamentarians under the umbrella of “Pakistan-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Groups”, on Thursday, agreed to work closely to identify areas of cooperation to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

The first meeting of the Pakistan-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Groups was held virtually on Thursday, according to a statement of the Foreign Office.

Convener of the Pakistan-Australia Friendship Group in the National Assembly of Pakistan Marriyum Aurangzeb and Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed led the Pakistan side, while the Australian side was led by the Chair of the Australia-Pakistan Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament Rowan Ramsey and Vice Chair Andrew Giles.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner-designate to Australia Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri and the Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Geoffrey Shaw also participated in the meeting.

Appreciating the excellent bilateral relations between Pakistan and Australia, Marriyum Aurangzeb emphasized the need to further enhance cooperation in diverse fields, including parliamentary affairs, trade and investment, education, agriculture and sports.

Senator Maqbool Ahmed raised the issue of Pakistani students who are unable to travel to Australia due to the Covid-19 restrictions and hoped the Australian side would assist Pakistani students, once the international borders were reopened.

He also briefed the Parliamentarians on the human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Rowan Ramsey underscored the importance of Parliamentary Friendship Groups in promotion of bilateral relations.

He appreciated the Pakistani diaspora in Australia and their contribution to the development of the two countries.

He also thanked Pakistan’s government for assistance in evacuation of Australian officials and citizens from Afghanistan.

Andrew Giles underscored the need to match the strong friendship between the two countries with greater bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

He appreciated the strong leadership of Pakistani diaspora during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The members of the Friendship Groups agreed to work closely to identify areas of cooperation to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

The Pakistan-Australia Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament has members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In Pakistan, the Senate and the National Assembly have separate Pakistan-Australia Friendship Groups.

These friendship groups play an important role in enhancing cooperation between the two countries.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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