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Nawaz Sharif opened ECO Summit

01 March, 2017

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday opened a key economic summit aimed at improving trade ties amid unprecedented security.

Islamabad is hosting the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organisation summit to finalise a plan for expanding trade and prosperity among member nations. Turkey, Iran and Pakistan founded the organisation in 1985.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among heads state in attendance.

Addressing the summit after assuming its chairmanship, Nawaz Sharif called for intensified collaboration to take advantage of enormous potential of ECO to turn the region into a citadel of peace, progress and prosperity, reportedthe state-run radio service.

The prime minister called for sustained focus on key areas identified for cooperation in the Islamabad Declaration including trade, transport and energy which could lead to a transformative change across the region.

Meaningful trade in the region cannot take place without better cooperation on transport, infrastructure and connectivity among the member states, he said.

The premier was of the vew that time has come for ECO to make momentous advances for practical realisation of the theme of the summit "Connectivity for Regional Prosperity".

He said theme of the summit assumes special relevance as more countries of the region are already making huge investment in connectivity projects.

“Central Asia has emerged as Trans-Eurasia land bridge and oil and gas pipelines are linking our markets with the rest of the world,” he added.

The premier said the ECO region is a vast geographical expanse and constitutes 16 per cent of the world population. He regretted that trade within the ECO region is a small fraction of our trade with the rest of the world.

Pakistan has deployed a heavy security contingent to guard Islamabad, where all offices, schools and businesses are closed for the day.

The 13th summit, taking place after a gap of five years, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the expansion of the bloc established in 1985. The summit’s theme is ‘Connectivity for Regional Prosperity’. Discussions at the meeting will focus on prospects of cooperation in the fields of connectivity, trade, transport and energy.

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