Islamabad: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reaffirmed Pakistan’s keen desire to formally launch the bilateral strategic dialogue with a visit of Lady Catherine Asthon, High Representative of European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to Pakistan early next year.
Hina Rabbani Khar was talking to Helga Schmid, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) on Thursday. They discussed Pakistan-EU relations and important regional developments.
She said the strategic dialogue, based on a five year EU-Pak Engagement Plan, which was being finalized, would go a long way in forging a mutually-beneficial broad-based partnership.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan attached enormous importance to its relations with the EU, given the fact that the EU was not only the world’s largest trading block, but also the largest trading partner of Pakistan as well as one of the major sources of foreign investment and remittances.
She appreciated EU’s Pakistan-specific trade package and its humanitarian and development assistance.
Foreign Minister Khar briefed the Deputy Secretary General about Pakistan’s perspectives on the upcoming Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, underlining that Pakistan was committed to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan as stability in Afghanistan was indispensable for Pakistan’s stability and socio-economic development.
She emphasized that Pakistan was convinced that in order for it to develop and prosper, regional stability was a sine qua non.
The Deputy Secretary General assured the Foreign Minister that Pakistan was an important country for the EU.
Every effort was being made on the part of Brussels to forge a strong comprehensive relationship with Pakistan, she added.
She also said that with the commencement of the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and EU, the two sides would embark on a sustained process of strengthening Pakistan-EU relations in diverse areas.
Earlier, Ms. Helga Schmid, had a detailed meeting with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir. The two agreed that Pakistan-EU relations had come a long way in the last three years and it was now time to widen its scope and raise its level.
The Foreign Secretary said the five year EU-Pak Engagement Plan, which was being negotiated, would give a well-defined trajectory to develop Pakistan-EU relations in multiple areas including security, trade and investment, socio-economic development, energy, education and health.