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Zardari, Ashraf to discuss range of bilateral matters with D-8 leaders

22 November, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will discuss the evolving situation in the Middle East and the region, and bilateral matters during their meetings with the leaders of the Developing Eight (D-8).

The talks encompassing all spheres will span three days from Nov 21 to 23, during the visit of the D-8 leaders from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey. The issue of Israeli attack on Gaza was likely to be the hot issue during the talks. Pakistan has strongly condemned the Israeli air attacks in Gaza that targeted not only the Hamas leadership, but also innocent civilians.

Pakistan believes that unless the Palestinian problem was resolved, peace in the Middle East will remain elusive. It has also urged the international community to come together to stop the Israeli aggression, and to work for a peaceful resolution of the festering issue.

President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt had earlier telephoned Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to discuss with him the situation arising out of the Israeli bombardment. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan considered the Israeli action a grave violation of international law and humanitarian norms. He assured that the people of Pakistan would stand with the people of Palestine.

The President is scheduled to meet Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathanon, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Turkish Prime Minister on Wednesday. He will later host a dinner for the Indonesian President.

He will also meet the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister on Thursday. It will be followed by a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He will also host a dinner in honour of the Iranian President.

The President will discuss bilateral matters with the the Egyptian President on Nov 23 following his address to the joint sitting of the Parliament.

Pakistan and Egypt will also hold delegation level talks, which will culminate in signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding. The President will also host a luncheon in honour of the Egyptian President.

The visit of the Egyptian President is of great importance for Pakistan. The last bilateral visit at this level was by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1960s.

President Morsi will be the first civilian, democratically elected President of Egypt and his visit will serve as "a landmark" in the friendly relations between the two major Muslim countries, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Pakistan has termed Morsi's visit as addition of a new dynamic chapter to their bilateral relationship aimed at diversifying and strengthening cooperation in all spheres.

President Morsi will hold a one-to-one meeting with the President, followed by delegation level talks. The two leaders are expected to hold extensive discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest, a statement from the Foreign Office said.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will host a working dinner for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. He will also meet the head of the Bangladeshi delegation Professor Gowher Rizvi, Advisor for International Affairs to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid.

Prime Minister Ashraf is also likely to meet the Nigerian President on Thursday, before the summit. A meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Deputy Malaysian Prime Minister are also in the pipeline later in the evening.

President Asif Ali Zardari will host a luncheon in honour of the visiting heads of delegations at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Thursday during the D-8 Summit.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will also join the delegates and will be present at the Retreat.

The delegation level talks will focus on improving the position of the member states in the world economy, diversification and creation of new opportunities in trade relations.

The D-8 countries comprise around 15% of the world's population, having a dynamic labour force, rich mineral, energy and agricultural resources, promising tourism capacities.

However, the contribution of the member countries in the global trade remains below the potential.

End.

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