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Pakistan, Palestine form commission to expand cooperation

18 February, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Palestine on Sunday agreed to constitute a joint commission comprising of foreign ministers of the two countries to expand the existing political cooperation into other areas including economy, agriculture, banking, education and social and cultural sectors.

The commission will be formally set up and begin its work soon, said President Asif Zardari during talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at the Presidency.

Spokesperson to the president Senator Farhatullah Babar said that President Zardari also offered a grant of $ 1million for construction of State of Palestine's embassy in Islamabad.

The spokesman said talks at the two rounds covered a wide range of issues ranging from the status of the on going struggle of Palestinians for statehood to bilateral issues and from the situation in the Middle East to the stalled peace process.

Issues in Palestine-Israel relations with focus on continued construction of settlements by Israel and reconciliation within Palestine also figured in the talks.

President Abbas briefed President Zardari how Israel had used the split between the West Bank and the Gaza strip to renege on the peace process and the antics resorted to by Tel Aviv after Palestinian leadership undertook efforts for achieving national reconciliation.

President Abbas also briefed President Zardari about the Arab Peace Initiative that, he said, also addressed Israeli concerns but had been ignored by Israel.

President Zardari while welcoming his Palestinian counterpart on his visit to Pakistan said that Pakistan believed in right of self-determination as inalienable right of the Palestinian people as well as the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The President said that Pakistan had supported all efforts aimed at resolving the Palestinian dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions for lasting peace in the region.

The President said that Pakistan called for total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories including Jerusalem, end of the settlements, restitution of the inalienable rights to Palestine, and establishment of an independent homeland for Palestinians with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as capital.

Earlier, at a luncheon hosted by him in honour of State of Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas,  President told that International community needed to evolve a global consensus on the goals and means to resolve the two conflicts on urgent basis.

The president expressed his concern over mocking of the United Nations by Israel. He said Israel continued to violate international laws with impunity while the 'champions of justice and human rights' did nothing. He termed the complete disregard by Israel for international laws as a 'slap on the face of the world community'. He called upon the world community to stop Israel from building new settlements in the east and south of the Occupied East Jerusalem.

The president told his counterpart that Pakistanis stand shoulder to shoulder with their Palestinian brothers in their fight against illegal occupation. He assured the Palestinian president that Pakistan would continue to render its unwavering support till they achieve their right to self-determination and an independent Palestinian state, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital, is established.

Expressing his joy over achieving of non-member observer state status by Palestine at the UN, the president hoped the observer status would prove to be a stepping-stone to Palestine's full membership of the UN.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extended respect and appreciation of his people for Pakistan's commitment towards their cause. He thanked President Zardari and the Pakistani government for agreeing to building Embassy of the State of Palestine in Islamabad.

The Pakistan side in the talks included Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister for Textile and Industry Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Secretary General to President Salman Faruqui and other officials. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also attended.

Besides President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian side was represented by Foreign Minister Riad NA Malki, Ambassador in the Presidency (Ramallah) Majdi AM Khalidi, President's Advisor Nabil GO Aburubainah and Ambassador of Palestine in Pakistan Walid AM Abu Ali.

The President also presented a portrait of Palestinian President to Mahmoud Abbas.

End.

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