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ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday welcomed the prospects of expansion of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) outreach to the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) for exploring wider economic and trade dividends of the region.

Talking to the president of the ECO Trade and Development Bank during a signing ceremony of financial assistance to Pakistan, the prime minister welcomed the prospects of inclusion of CARs in the ECO. The prime minister further suggested hosting of ECO members countries’ summit including the CARs with proper agenda after consensus which would give a push to the economic activities and regional cooperation.

The prime minister urged the ECO to further tap the potential of Central Asian countries which had a huge population and offering diverse potential of railways and land network connectivity.

He said developing countries like Pakistan required foreign investment and the CARs could be connected via Afghanistan, and these linkages would broaden the economic relations among all the regional countries.

PM Shehbaz urges Pak-Turkish collaboration in alternate energy

He opined that economic priority was on the ECO agenda and further prospects could provide further opportunities to the developing countries like Pakistan.

The prime minister termed the idea as “a game changer”, adding that the Gwadar port would serve as a hub for transporting gas to the world.

He opined that railroads and roads connectivity would shape the regional landscape, through a vision of three-way economic cooperation. The countries rich with natural resources could export their goods through these linkages, he added. He also invited the president of the Bank to visit Pakistan.

The financial assistance of EUR 150 million from ECO Trade and Development Bank will also be utilized for flood relief, he concluded.

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