More trade among SAARC states to reduce poverty: FM

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the promotion of economic and trade cooperation among SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries will help reduce poverty in the region and improve the living standards of the people.

He was talking to a delegation of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by its President Iftikhar Malik on Monday.

He said that trade with SAARC countries was among Pakistan’s top priorities but, unfortunately, the volume of trade among SAARC member countries was quite low, and it needed to increase.

Iftikhar Malik assured the foreign minister that as president of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce, he would do his utmost to promote trade and economic cooperation among the SAARC countries. He also briefed the foreign minister about the new building of SAARC Chamber Headquarters in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Admiral (Retd) Mohan Wijewickrama, called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday.

The foreign minister congratulated the high commissioner on assuming his responsibilities and expressed the hope that friendly ties between the two countries will be further strengthened during his tenure. During the meeting, views were exchanged on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.

The foreign minister felicitated the government and people of Sri Lanka on the successful conduct of parliamentary elections, the first elections to be held in South Asia during COVID-19. Qureshi reaffirmed the importance of strong bilateral ties and underscored the need to further deepen and broaden cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

Expressing satisfaction at the current trajectory of bilateral relations, the foreign minister underscored the importance of further strengthening all existing consultations mechanisms between the two countries. He also emphasized the need to enhance the volume of bilateral trade and achieve the annual target of $1 billion.

The foreign minister conveyed that Pakistan stood as a proud partner of Sri Lanka in its human resource development, security cooperation, fight against terrorism, and progress and prosperity. He wished peace and prosperity for the brotherly people of Sri Lanka.
The high commissioner conveyed his government’s appreciation for Pakistan’s consistent support to Sri Lanka at their times of need. Reciprocating the warm sentiments, he expressed his commitment to work for further increasing the momentum of bilateral relations.

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