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EU seeks long-term ties with Pakistan

06 June, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baronen, Catherine Ashton shaking hand
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and European Union (EU) on Tuesday agreed on a five-year engagement plan to promote cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, human rights, governance, energy, education and socio economic development.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar led Pakistani side while EU head of foreign policy Catherin Ashton, who arrived in Pakistan on Monday, led the EU side in a meeting at the Foreign Office. The two sides also agreed to the establishment of a Pakistan-EU Steering Committee on counterterrorism, as EU sought long-term relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan and the EU reaffirmed their shared commitment to work together to combat terrorism.

EU High Representative Ashton expressed appreciation for the enormous sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan in fighting terrorism and extremism.

The two sides also underlined the importance of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.

They also underscored the need for the sustained commitment of the international community during the transformation phase in Afghanistan, and agreed to continue working closely in this regard.

Foreign Minister Khar apprised Ashton about the ongoing Pakistan-India peace process. Ashton also expressed support for the ongoing and result-oriented dialogue between Pakistan and India.

Later, addressing a joint press conference, Khar said the strategic dialogue between the two countries would serve as a component to implement the five-year engagement plan.

The foreign minister said Pakistan considers its relations with the EU exceptionally important as it has always gone an extra mile to support and strengthen democracy in the country.

She said the European Union happens to be Pakistan's largest trading partner. "Our exports to the European Union stand at 4.6 billion euros while imports 3.7 billion euros. The total volume of trade is about 8.3 billion euros. During the last decade‚ bilateral trade has gone up by 77 percent."

She said that the European Union is giving Pakistan 225 million euros for the socio- economic uplift.

Khar said both the sides had agreed to institutionalise summit-level talks for greater engagement and promotion of relations. She expressed the confidence that both the sides would also engage in talks for the Free Trade Agreement.

She said that within a year Pakistan would get GSP Plus status that would open new opportunities for Pakistani businessmen and create thousands of new job opportunities.

End.

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