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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office on Thursday dispelled the impression that Pakistan might be taking any side in the new “Cold War” between China and the United States, and hoped that Islamabad’s relations with both Beijing and Washington will continue to move forward “from strength to strength without any obstacle.”

Speaking at her weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Pakistan is among those countries which have very good relations with both China and the United States.

“I would not like to second guess what the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has said. I would like to underline that her statement was made in the context of certain international developments.

As we have said in the past Pakistan does not wish to be part of any bloc,” she said when she was asked whether Pakistan is under any pressure from either side to join any bloc following the recent statement by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar in which she had reportedly stated that “Don’t push Pakistan into the new Cold War between US and China.”

“We would like to develop our relations with all our friends, as we have done in the past, in all areas of cooperation, and we hope that Pakistan-China friendship and Pakistan-United States friendship will continue to move forward from strength to strength without any obstacle,” Baloch added.

To a question about any possibility of talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), she reiterated that Pakistan will not negotiate with individuals who are responsible for the killing of Pakistani civilians and law enforcement officials.

Responding to another query about the Taliban’s interim government’s policy with regard to the TTP, the spokesperson said that she would not speculate on the internal political dynamics of another country.

However, she added that the trilateral understanding between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan during the recent trilateral meeting and the outcome document is proof of our joint commitment against the terrorist entities that threaten Pakistan.

“We are regularly engaged with the interim Afghan government on countering the menace of terrorism. And this is an ongoing process.

We hope and expect that the commitments made, including in the trilateral outcome declaration between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, will be fulfilled so that Afghanistan is not a source of terrorism and instability faced by its neighbours including Pakistan,” she added.

She said that in the talks with the Afghan authorities, Pakistan has clearly articulated its concerns with regard to the terror threat.

“This is an ongoing process and we hope that steps would be taken to mitigate the terrorist threat. It is important that the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan does not endanger the lives of Pakistani people, Pakistani civilians and personnel of Pakistani law enforcement agencies,” she added.

To another query about the forthcoming SCO summit being held virtually on July 4 in India, she said that Pakistan has received the official invitation from the Indian Prime Minister for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for the virtual meeting of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that is due to take place on the 4th of July.

“Pakistan will be represented at the summit. We will be making an announcement regarding our participation in

the coming days,” she added.

Responding to various queries about the boat wreck incident in Greece, she said that individuals who have survived are being investigated to ascertain the circumstances under which this boat was operating, the masterminds behind the operation and the situation on board as well.

She said that the investigations are ongoing, and it may take some time to complete for the Greek authorities to make a final determination about the future stay in Greece of those who survived the incident.

About the number of Pakistanis among those deceased and missing, she said that Greek authorities have recovered 82 bodies and their identification will take place through DNA matching.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased and missing,” she added.

Asked about the questionable role of the Greek coastguard, she said that it is premature to make any comment on the circumstances of the incident, adding that Pakistan is in contact with the Greek authorities in this regard.

She said that there is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances under which the incident took place. “So, we believe it is premature for us to make any comments on the circumstances of this incident,” she added.

To another question about the missing Titan submarine, on which two Pakistanis are also on board, she said that Pakistan’s concerned missions in the US and Canada are following the developments. “We have confidence that this matter will be pursued effectively by the local authorities.

We would not like to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family that their privacy may be respected,” she added.

She further said that the 13th session of the Pakistan-EU Joint Commission is currently underway in Brussels. She said that the Sub-Group of the Joint Commission on Development and the Sub-Group on Trade met on June 20 and 21 respectively.

She said that the two sides discussed Pakistan-EU Development Partnership, GSP Plus and the upcoming new GSP Plus scheme, and market access for Pakistan.

She said that the Sub-Group on Democracy, Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights were also scheduled to meet on Thursday. Discussions at the plenary session are to be held on Friday which will focus on migration and mobility, climate change, and cooperation in education, culture, science, and information technology.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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