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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Wednesday finalised the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Dialogue (2022-2026), which provides an institutional approach to deepen cooperation in various fields, including political, security, trade and investment, agricultural and food security, transportation, energy and environment etc.

This was announced by the Foreign Office through a statement following a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the visiting GCC Secretary General Dr Naye fFalah M Al-Hajraf and his delegation after holding wide-ranging delegation-level talks.

Fondly recalling the meeting in December 2021, it stated that Foreign Minister Qureshi extended a warm welcome to Dr Al-Hajraf and reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding fraternal and historical ties with the GCC member states, rooted firmly in shared faith, values and culture.

During delegation-level talks, it added that the two sides reviewed Pakistan-GCC cooperation in diverse fields, and explored new avenues for an enhanced mutually-beneficial partnership.

They also exchanged views on the regional developments, in particular the prevailing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the deteriorating human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, it added.

In line with the MoU on Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the GCC, the statement added that the two sides finalized the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Dialogue (2022-2026), which provides an institutional approach to deepen cooperation in various fields, including political; security; trade and investment; agricultural and food security, transportation; energy; environment; health; culture; and education.

“Welcoming the finalization of the Joint Action Plan for Strategic Dialogue, Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary General Al-Hajraf underscored that the Action Plan would impart a strong impetus towards optimally realizing the tremendous potential for increased cooperation between Pakistan and the GCC states,” the statement added.

Noting the progress on the ongoing efforts to conclude the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and the GCC, it stated that Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary General Al-Hajraf expressed determination to conclude the negotiations on priority.

It added that the Foreign Minister expressed gratitude to the GCC and its member states for strong expression of support for the people of Afghanistan in the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Islamabad on 19 December 2021.

Qureshi also urged the world community to upscale its efforts to reach out to the Afghan people on an urgent basis to help address the humanitarian crisis and stabilize the economic situation.

This is the second visit of the GCC Secretary General to Pakistan in the last three weeks. He earlier visited Islamabad in December 2021 to attend the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“The visit of the Secretary General has helped further strengthen the positive momentum in Pakistan-GCC relations, which would be instrumental in deepening mutual cooperation across myriad fields,” according to the statement.

The GCC is an intergovernmental political and economic union consists of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Oman and Qatar with its main headquarter is in Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Earlier, the GCC secretary general arrived on a day-long visit on the invitation of Foreign Minister Qureshi.

Talking to the state-run media upon receiving the guest, Qureshi said that a mechanism on trade cooperation between Pakistan and GCC will be finalized soon, adding that Pakistan desires to develop economic partnership with the GCC member states. He also expressed the hope that the GCC will further progress under the presidency of Saudi Arabia.

The foreign minister said that he also apprised the GCC Secretary General about grave human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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