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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and France on Friday signed the "Roadmap for Bilateral Cooperation" for deepening relations in all fields of mutual interest including high level exchanges and cooperation in political, economic, development, science and technology, tourism, defence, security, and counterterrorism, etc.

The 14th round of Pakistan-France Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Paris on Friday, said a statement of the Foreign Office here.

Foreign Secretary Dr Asad Majeed Khan led the Pakistan side while Secretary-General of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Anne-Marie Descôtes led the French side.

Ambassador of Pakistan to France Asim Iftikhar Ahmad and other senior officials assisted the Foreign Secretary.

With shared desire and commitment to reinforce ties, it added that Pakistan and France signed on this occasion, the ‘Roadmap for Bilateral Cooperation’ that envisages deepening relations in all fields of mutual interest including high level exchanges and cooperation in political, economic, development, science and technology, education, culture, tourism, defence, security and counter-terrorism, migration, climate change and multilateral domains.

The two sides had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral cooperation, and regional and multilateral issues. The Foreign Secretary conveyed Pakistan’s profound appreciation for President Macron’s participation in the Geneva Conference on 9 January 2023 and strong support pledged by France for resilient reconstruction of flood affected areas of Pakistan.

Noting that the meeting between President Macron and Prime Minister Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA in September 2022 had imparted fresh momentum, the Foreign Secretary stressed the importance of regular high-level political contacts to provide guidance and impetus for enhancing broad-based mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries. The two sides also highlighted the importance of parliamentary contacts in deepening political ties and advancing multi- dimensional relations.

While underscoring the priority attached to economic, trade and investment relations, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in energy, IT, agriculture and livestock, tourism and other sectors. They discussed arranging dedicated trade events and exchange of business delegations to sustain the positive trajectory of bilateral trade and investment in recent years. The Foreign Secretary underscored the importance of GSP Plus as a trade promotion and development tool, which has been beneficial for both Pakistan and the European Union. He also appreciated French Development Agency (AfD)’s cooperation in renewable energy, urban development, mass transport and preservation of national heritage in Pakistan, noting the potential for further expansion of AfD’s portfolio in the country in areas of mutual interest.

The two sides took stock of the current bilateral defence and security cooperation. They agreed to maintain and further nurture long- standing defence ties and reinforce cooperation on counter-terrorism. They also exchanged views on UN Peacekeeping in the context of multilateral action for maintenance of international peace and security.

Foreign Secretary briefed his French counterpart on the regional situation and the challenges related to maintenance of peace and security in the region. They exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan. The Foreign Secretary also stressed that resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people was fundamental for lasting peace and stability in South Asia. The two sides agreed to hold the 15th round of BPC in Islamabad next year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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