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 Pakistan, France agree to set up Joint Economic Commission

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PostSubject: Pakistan, France agree to set up Joint Economic Commission   Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:58 am




PARIS: Pakistan and France on Tuesday agreed to setting up of
a Joint Economic Commission for closer cooperation in food,
agriculture, economic development and large scale training of nurses for
export to the European Union and Middle East.

The decision was taken during a meeting between President Asif Ali
Zardari and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who called on him
here at his hotel, prior to his departure for London.
The two sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the commission
having four members from each side, in October in Islamabad, while
subsequent meetings will be held alternatively at both the capitals.
France also assured to expedite the payments it had pledged under the
Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) on priority, to help the country
meet the situation arising out of floods and the large scale
devastation.
The President was on a three-day visit to France and met his
counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy on Monday, with both sides vowing to
further expand and strengthen their bilateral ties in all spheres.
Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar told media after the
meeting that President Zardari stressed the importance of deeper
bilateral ties between the two countries.
He also apprised the French Foreign Minister of the death and
destruction caused by the floods, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
and the need for international assistance to help Pakistan cope with the
natural calamity.
The President in this regard stressed the importance of realization
of the pledges made by the FoDP as the country has come under immense
economic pressure, first due to its role in the war against terror and
then because of the heavy rains that have killed over 1400 people and
rendered millions homeless.
Foreign Minister Kouchner also expressed his ‘extreme shock’ over the
floods which hit north-west Pakistan and expressed France’s solidarity
to the Pakistani people and assured all help on behalf of the European
Union for humanitarian efforts.
President Zardari said the tribal areas of the country were under
developed and were being used by some militants as a sanctuary.
He called for a massive economic development plan to create job
opportunities for the unemployed youth so as to lure them away from
tendencies that foster extremism.
President Zardari was of the view that greater access to the EU
markets was vital to help the people better economic activities and to
distance them away from the influence of Taliban.
He also called for setting up of a French bank branches in Pakistan to further boost trade and commerce.
President also asked the French Foreign Minister to explore the
possibility of a debt swap arrangement and mentioned that the bilateral
debt to France totaling 2.3 billion dollars include 845 million dollars
ODA and 1.49 billion dollars of non-ODA assistance, the spokesperson
said.
Farhatullah Babar said the President said that being a signatory to
important international human rights covenants and having lately also
ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT) Pakistan more than
qualified to be allowed market access by the EU countries.
He urged France to take the lead in pleading with the EU greater market access to it.
President Zardari also reiterated Pakistan’s interest in a serious
and substantive engagement in civil nuclear cooperation under the IAEA
safeguards with France.
The President said Pakistan was faced with a serious energy crisis
and it needed to explore and exploit all sources of energy including
hydro, thermal, solar, wind and nuclear.
President Zardari also called for setting up a research fund to
facilitate scientific cooperation between the science institutions of
the two countries and proposed enhancement of cultural exchanges between
the two countries.
He appreciated the holding of Gandhara Exhibition at the Guimet
museum in Paris and a month of ‘Pakistan in Paris’ covering a vast
number of cultural activities and thanked the French government for its
support.
The President also raised the issue of travel advisories to French
business representatives and said that the advisories and visa
restriction impacted Pakistani businesses, and called for their review
and relaxation.
During the meeting issues relating to the regional situation and
Afghanistan also came under discussion. The President underlined the
need for greater cooperation in intelligence sharing between the two
countries in the fight against militancy.
The French Foreign Minister said that France deeply appreciated
Pakistan’s role in the fight against militancy and that France would
continue to support it in security and economic development areas. He
said that France was keen to hold the first meeting of the Joint
Commission before October this year and work out a practicable plan for
assistance in various areas of economic development issues and security.
—APP


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