Pakistan plans energy, trade corridor with CARs: Nawaz

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said Pakistan plans to establish energy and trade corridors with the Central Asian Republics (CARs).

At a joint news conference with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Presidential Palace, Nawaz Sharif said they discussed bilateral relations, the regional situation and international issues. Both sides have agreed to start joint development projects in different fields.

The prime minister also assured the Kazakh president Pakistan’s support for Kazakhstan in next year’s polls for membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on a non-permanent seat to commence in 2017.

He said Kazakhstan has been invited to participate in the projects being implemented under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said Pakistan is working on the corridor to enhance regional trade.

He said Pakistan will continue to support Kazakhstan at the United Nations and other world forums. He said Pakistan is supportive of efforts for peace and stability in the region. Nawaz Sharif said the role of Kazakhstan is appreciable for peace and development. He invited the Kazak president to visit Pakistan.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev said both the countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in textile, energy and defence fields. He said there is a need to enhance trade volume between the two countries. He appreciated Pakistan’s role against terrorism.

Nawaz said the two countries have agreed to form joint ventures in different fields including textiles, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other industries. He said Pakistan would be happy to import gas and oil from Kazakhstan. The Kazakh side has expressed interest in joining Pakistan in ship building as well as other areas like trade and industry. The premier Nawaz said the two sides agreed to strengthen economic cooperation by optimal utilisation of existing institutional mechanism. He noted that the bilateral trade is not commensurate with the goodwill between the two countries and needs to be revitalised. “We have decided to strengthen connectivity and links between the two countries,” he said. The prime minister said that during talks, they reviewed the regional situation especially with regard to Afghanistan. He said a peaceful and stable Afghanistan remains vital for peace and stability in the region.

Earlier, Pakistan and Kazakhstan signed three Agreements and MoUs in Astana to enhance cooperation in different fields. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Nursultan Nazarbayev witnessed the signing ceremony.

The prime minister extended his heartiest congratulations to President Nazarbayev on the historic win in the recently held presidential elections. He said Kazakhstan owed its political stability, economic success and high international stature to statesmanship and wisdom of President Nazarbayev.

President Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan regards Pakistan as a reliable partner and good friend, adding that the future of cooperation for the benefit of the two nations was very promising.

Earlier, Nawaz Sharif and Nazarbayev held in-depth discussion on bilateral relations with particular focus on ways and means to augment their trade and economic cooperation to the level that was commensurate with their deep-rooted ties.

The prime minister told the Kazakh president that it was his government’s top priority to transform relations with Kazakhstan into a strategic partnership and enhance bilateral cooperation in all areas, adding, economic diplomacy was high on his foreign policy agenda.

The two sides agreed that the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) between the two countries, scheduled to meet in Astana in October this year, should suggest a roadmap for meaningful trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The prime minister said the two countries should enhance their cooperation in the oil and gas sector. It was agreed that the two countries can also cooperate closely in agriculture research and technology sector, as Pakistan had vast experience in this field.

The prime minister said Pakistan already has a relaxed visa for the Kazakh businessmen and hoped that Kazakhstan will also consider extending visa facilities to Pakistani businessmen in their recently announced liberalised visa policy regime. He hoped that government of Kazakhstan will also facilitate easy access to Pakistani commodities in the Kazakh markets.

The prime minister said Pakistan believed that the Quadrilateral Agreement among Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic for Traffic-in-Transit will give impetus to trade and economic cooperation.

The two sides also discussed other regional and international issues of mutual interest, particularly the situation in Afghanistan. The prime minister briefed the Kazakh president about Pakistan’s approach of having good relations with its neighbours including India as well as Pakistan’s sacrifices and efforts to rid the country of the menace of terrorism for which it was successfully carrying out the operation Zarb-e-Azb.

During the one on one bilateral meeting, Nazarbayev said the two countries enjoy historic trade and cultural ties. He recalled his visit to Pakistan in 1992 during the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister and said he remembered his warm hospitality.

President Nazarbayev hailed the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said he was spearheading significant economic and political reforms in the country and was elevating Pakistan’s stature in the comity of nations. He said Kazakhstan has always been working towards strengthening its with Pakistan, adding that there were transportation issues that need to be addressed.



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