DHAKA: Pakistan and Bangladesh reiterated their commitment to work together to realize the full potential of friendly bilateral relations in the fourth round of Foreign Secretary level consultations between the two countries that concluded. The Pakistan side was led by Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan and the Bangladeshi side by his counterpart Muhammd Touhid Hossain. A joint statement issued on the occasion said that at the talks the two sides took the stock of the whole array of bilateral relations and explored areas of possible cooperation.
Following is the joint statement issued on the occasion:
At the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries, the two sides took stock of the whole gamut of bilateral relations, reviewed the progress made since the last Foreign Secretary-level talks and explored areas of possible cooperation. Regional and international issues also featured in the discussions. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the last Foreign Secretary-level talks and reiterated their commitment to work together to realize the full potential of friendly bilateral relations.
The two sides underscored the importance of their economic and commercial relations and decided to consider adopting measures such as Early Harvest Programme to reach the target of USD 1 billion per annum in the two-way trade as well as to address the issue of trade imbalance. They agreed that the private sector and the Chamber bodies of the two countries have an important role to play in this regard. They took note of the successful holding of the first meeting of Joint Working Group (JWG) under the aegis of Bangladesh-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) held in Islamabad in July 2007 and hoped that the JWG meetings will be held in regular intervals as decided. It was decided that the next meeting of the JEC would be held in Islamabad in early 2008. They also shared the view that fresh impetus through activities such as trade fairs, seminars and exchange of delegations are needed to promote commercial and investment cooperation.
While expressing satisfaction over the existing level of cooperation in the field of education, the two sides agreed to work to explore the potential areas of cooperation including higher education and scientific research. They agreed to bolster cooperation in the fields of sports and culture. The two sides also agreed to examine at an appropriate level the issues related to the existing Consular regime with a view to facilitate greater people-to-people contact.
The two sides noted the recent conclusion of an MoU in the field of Civil Aviation and expressed optimism that its early implementation would help bring peoples of the two countries closer. They underlined that steps should be taken to realize the provisions of the recent MoUs between the two sides on cooperation in the fields of Tourism and Agriculture, Fisheries & Livestock.
The Pakistan side informed that the gift of 10,000 metric tons of wheat would reach Bangladesh next month. It also indicated its readiness to sell coarse rice required by Bangladesh. The Bangladesh side noted the offer with appreciation. The Bangladesh side raised the issues of repatriation of stranded Pakistanis and division of assets. The Pakistan side stated its position.
The two Foreign Secretaries expressed their satisfaction at the level of cooperation under SAARC and renewed their commitment to work closely to implement the decisions taken by the regional body for the betterment of the lives of the people of South Asia. While noting with happiness the dynamism infused in the SAARC process through the regular holding of meetings at different levels, the two sides also expressed their commitment to proceed in a focused manner about the project-based cooperation.
The two sides reiterated commitment to their continued efforts to realize the objectives of the OIC Charter and to promote the cause of the Islamic Ummah. They also exchanged views on the Middle East situation and expressed hope that to ensure peace and stability in the region all concerned would continue the process of dialogue and engagement. They expressed support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
As members of the UN, the two sides recalled the contribution being made by their respective governments particularly in the area of peacekeeping around the world and agreed to remain engaged in furthering the objectives of the United Nations.
The talks were held in a friendly atmosphere characteristic of the existing relations between the two countries. The Pakistan Foreign Secretary conveyed his deepest appreciation for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him and the members of his delegation. He invited his Bangladesh counterpart to visit Islamabad for the next round of Foreign Secretary level consultations. It was agreed that dates for the talks would be finalized through diplomatic channels.