NEW YORK, Sept 24: Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has assured Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi of his government’s commitment to reconstruction and economic assistance for Pakistan.
Mr Okada, who became Japanese foreign minister just days ago, said during a meeting with Mr Qureshi here that the newly elected government in Tokyo assigned top priority to cooperation with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mr Okada, who saw first hand the devastation wrought by the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan’s northwestern areas, said he would like to visit the region to see reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Mr Qureshi welcomed Tokyo’s reiteration of its commitment to close relations with Pakistan. The two diplomats discussed the Friends of Democratic Pakistan summit, being co-hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Japan, Mr Qureshi said, had been a great development partner of Pakistan and Islamabad looked forward to continuing this important relationship. He expressed the hope that the international community would step up implementation of the pledges made at the Tokyo conference early this year.
Mr Qureshi also had productive bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Italy, Argentina and Sierra Leone. Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, discussed prospects for UN reforms with Mr Qureshi. The two countries share views on United Nations reforms and have been cooperating at diplomatic forums towards that end.
Italy has been a leading supporter of expansion in trade and economic relations between The European Union and Pakistan and favoured the process of engagement as well as Pakistan’s quest for getting preferential trade access to the robust European market with initiatives like GSP.
Mr Qureshi said that increase in Pakistani exports to Europe would step up economic activity in the country, which in turn would bring jobs to unemployed youth.
Mr Qureshi and his Argentine counterpart Jorge Taina discussed consolidating trade and economic relations. Mr Taina said he looked forward to visiting Pakistan.
In a meeting with Sierra Leone Foreign Minister Zainab Hawa Bangura, Mr Qureshi reaffirmed cooperative ties. Ms Bangura said her country would host a donors’ conference in London and invite Pakistan to attend the meeting.—APP