Zardari calls for closer economic ties with Thailand
22 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday stressed the need for translating the cordial relationship between Pakistan and Thailand into a substantive partnership in areas of trade, defence, education, science and technology and tourism.
In a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the presidency, Zardari said that Pakistan and Thailand had been longstanding friends and allies, as ties and cultural connection between the two societies goes back to more than two millennia to the Gandhara period.
President's spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said the two leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
The president said Pakistan was proud of preserving and promoting the rich Buddhist heritage.
"Our common cultural heritage, particularly the Gandhara civilization, provides huge opportunities for promoting tourism between the two countries," he said. The president also suggested organising a Gandhara exhibition in Thailand, which he said would help further promote cultural and tourism ties between the two countries.
He said that Pakistan was keen to comprehensively upgrade its relationship with Thailand as a crucial component of the "Vision East Asia".
The spokesperson said the president also stressed the need for deepening and broadening government-to-government, business-to-business, parliament-to-parliament and people-to-people relations, which the president said was vital to build robust economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The president expressed confidence that the agreements signed between the two sides on the establishment of the Joint Trade Committee and the Joint Business Council would help expand bilateral trade ties and open new vistas of business and trade. He also called for having a free-trade agreement between the two countries, which he said should be the centrepiece of a strong economic partnership.
The president expressed satisfaction that the two countries had shared perceptions and similar positions on a range of regional and international issues.
The president appreciated Thailand's consistent support to Pakistan in becoming a full dialogue partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The president also appreciated the Thai government's recent financial support for the rehabilitation of earthquake-affected people in Balochistan as well as flood victims in 2010 and 2011.
He recalled his meeting with Thailand's Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during her visit to Pakistan in March 2012, and said that the exchange of high-level visits had brought the countries and people of the two countries further closer.
The president hoped that the visit of Yingluck Shinawatra, the first democratically elected female prime minister of Thailand, would further boost bilateral relations, particularly trade and investment ties.
Zardari also conveyed warm greetings and best wishes for King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit on the behalf of the people of Pakistan.
Yingluck Shinawatra said that Pakistan and Thailand enjoyed deep friendly relations and expressed confidence that the ties would grow further with each passing day.
She also offered condolences on behalf of her government and the people over the loss of life and property in recent floods in Pakistan. The Thai prime minister felicitated the president for overseeing the smooth and successful holding of the general election and the presidential election in the country, and said that Thailand believed in the value of democracy and respected the will of the people.