- Earlier Annalena Baerbock met FM Bilawal and pledged continued support to help Pakistan host Afghan refugees
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's maiden two-day visit to Pakistan has been cut short after it was reported she had contracted COVID-19.
Earlier on Tuesday she had arrived in Islamabad on the invitation of FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The German FM was also supposed to call on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on a tour that also included visits to Greece and Turkey. However, Reuters reported she has taken ill due to Covid-19 and lost her sense of taste.
When she had met Bilawal, she lauded Pakistan's effort to welcome Afghan refugees and pledged her country's continued support to help Islamabad host Afghans in the country.
"I came to Pakistan to tell you that we see your engagement and Germany remains committed to continuing our support for Pakistani host communities along with people who had to flee Afghanistan.
“We want to work together with your government, Pakistani people, and our international partners to improve the living conditions and provide access to education and decent health care,” Baerbock said.
Pakistan has already been hosting around 1.5 million Afghan refugees for decades.
On her arrival at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilawal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and other senior officials had welcomed Baerbock.
In a joint press conference with Bilawal, the German FM said she is optimistic that their meeting has laid the groundwork for cooperation in the future.
She also said that they held a detailed discussion on the situation in Afghanistan, saying that the Afghan Taliban were "heading in the wrong direction".
She said Pakistan has shown a "big heart by selflessly welcoming people from Kabul and providing them food and a chance for a better future".
While speaking on Russia-Ukraine conflict, the German FM said that Russia's war had set dangerous precedents for the world, urging the global community to stand by Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Bilawal said that "ever since the Ukraine conflict started, we have been in regular contact with the leadership of Ukraine and Russia, as well as the European Union and other countries urging them towards continued dialogue and diplomacy in the pursuit of peace in Ukraine."
Pakistan hopes a solution will be found through dialogue soon, he added.
Earlier, the two leaders held delegation-level talks on the entire range of bilateral matters and also exchanged views on regional and global issues.
Both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation between the two countries.
Pakistan has started extensive lobbying to retain Generalised Scheme of Preferences plus status in the European Union (EU), which is expiring next year. Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar has also visited the EU’s headquarter, Brussels (Belgium) and other European capitals like France as part of lobbying strategy as relations with France soured after massive protests by Tahreek–i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP).
Previously, Ministry of Foreign Affairs had prepared the schedule of visit of ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan to Germany in May 2022, but Foreign Ministry changed its plan after his departure from the office.
Former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also spoke to German Foreign Minister on phone and discussed issues of mutual interest.