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Pakistan-EU talks to resume after over a decade

Dawn | 4 March 2008

Pakistan-EU talks to resume after over a decade

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 3: The Pakistan-European Union Joint Commission is expected to meet within three months after remaining suspended for over a decade, sources in the Foreign Office said after a meeting of the Pak-EU Political Directors here on Monday.

The EU delegation was led by Matjaz Sinkovec, state secretary of Slovenia, which currently holds the EU presidency, while Akbar Zeb, additional foreign secretary (Europe) led the Pakistani side.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said: “The two sides reviewed progress of the entire gamut of Pakistan-EU bilateral relations, including political, economic development, trade and immigration matters. The Pak-EU third generation agreement, joint commission, Free Trade Agreement with EU, inclusion in the GSP Plus scheme, cooperation in the field of Science and Technology, especially higher education and research, EU’s Country Strategy Paper (CSP) and Multi-year Indicative Programme (MIP) on Pakistan came under discussion.”

The revival of the joint commission, which met last in 1996, has been delayed because of certain procedural issues.

Pakistan has been stressing on the Free Trade Agreement and inclusion in the GSP Plus scheme because of the enormous economic benefits.

The EU is Pakistan’s largest trading and investment partner. The issues are expected to be decided by the joint commission, whose revival is being seen as the ‘first practical step’ by the two sides towards strengthening of commercial, economic and development cooperation.

The two sides also discussed in detail regional issues such as Afghanistan, the composite dialogue with India, Middle East peace process, post-war Iraq, Lebanon and Iran. Nuclear non-proliferation and counterterrorism measures were also discussed.

 source: Dawn