PM: (Belarusian PM calls on Nawaz Sharif)

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Belarusian counterpart Andrey Kobyakov on Tuesday held a one-on-one meeting and discussed issues of bilateral interest with particular focus on enhancing cooperation in trade, defence and culture.

The two prime ministers in a meeting held at the PM House agreed on strengthening ties at the governmental and people-to-people levels for the mutual benefit of their countries.

The Belarusian prime minister who is on a three-day official visit to Islamabad expressed interest to explore the areas of economy and humanitarian cooperation through launch of two Roadmaps.

Prime Minister Nawaz said that the Pakistan-Belarus Roadmap on Economic Cooperation would provide a robust framework for multi-sectorial cooperation. The two sides agreed that there existed a potential for Pakistan and Belarus to collaborate in the fields of education, health and science and technology.

The prime minister recalled his visit to Minsk in August this year terming it productive, and said that the high-level visits between the two countries had extensively contributed to the strengthening of bilateral relations.

He mentioned that with working together, Pakistan and Belarus could enhance their bilateral trade volume up to $60 million. He expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the first Pakistan-Belarus meeting of the Joint Economic Commission on August 7th and added that the second meeting of the Pakistan-Business Joint Business and Investment Forum and the inaugural session of Pakistan-Belarus Business Council were most encouraging.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed to enhance economic cooperation in textile, agricultural equipment, heavy machinery, pharmaceutical, dairy products and vehicles. He mentioned that parliamentary contacts were an important element of the bilateral relations and welcomed the formation of the “Working Group for Cooperation in the Belarusian Parliament with the Parliament of Pakistan”.

He apprised Prime Minister Andrey Kobyakov that the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan along with a delegation would visit Belarus soon.

The two sides discussed a whole range of issues including cooperation in defence and defence production, counter-terrorism and narcotics control. The need of collaboration in education, culture and people-to-people linkages also came under discussion.

Later, the two prime ministers chaired the delegation-level meeting and emphasised on the follow-up of the Memoranda of Understanding signed in the recent months. Prime Minister Nawaz urged upon the Belarusian investors to benefit from the incentives offered by Pakistan’s Special Economic Zones. In the field of culture, he suggested collaboration between the museums of two countries.

The prime minister also welcomed the establishment of a Belarus Cultural Centre at the National Library of Pakistan and expressed desire to establish a similar centre in Minsk. He said Pakistan wanted friendly relations with all its neighbours including China, India and Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz highlighted the significance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which he said would benefit the entire region. He welcomed Belarus to be part of this economic vision.

The prime minister also expressed gratitude for Belarusian support to Pakistan for its bid for re-election to the UNESCO Executive Board. The Pakistani side included Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanvir Hussain, Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, State Minister for Education Balighur Rehman, PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and Pakistan’s ambassador to Belarus Masood Raja.

The Belarus delegation included Minister of Industry Vitaly Vovk, Minister for Architecture and Construction Anatoly Cherny, Minister for Agriculture and Food Leonid Zayats, Minister for Education Mikhail Zhurakov, Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Rybakov and Belarus ambassador to Pakistan Andrei Ermolovich.