BAGHDAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday reaffirmed Pakistan’s long-standing and friendly ties with Iraq and expressed Islamabad’s desire to further enhance existing bilateral ties.
The foreign minister conveyed these sentiments when he called on Iraqi President Dr Barham Salih.
The foreign minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, said a press release issued by the Foreign Office.
Acknowledging the unyielding efforts and sacrifices of Iraq, and its people, in the fight against terrorism, the foreign minister wished peace, progress and prosperity for the brotherly people of Iraq.
Foreign Minister Qureshi briefed the President on Pakistan’s transformed vision centered around economic security, shifting focus from geo-politics to geo-economics.
Pakistan’s top diplomat briefed Salih on the situation in South Asia, in particular Pakistan’s approach towards the issues and disputes with India, Pakistan’s consistent support for the Afghan Peace Process, and Pakistan’s steadfast diplomatic support for the just cause of Palestine.
Qureshi meets Iraqi PM
In his meeting with Iraqi PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan, extended an invitation to Iraqi premier to visit Pakistan.
Qureshi extended the invitation in a meeting with the Iraqi PM in Baghdad on Saturday during his three-day trip to Iraq.
The Iraqi PM, while accepting PM Imran Khan’s invitation, hoped that the visit would take place at the “earliest convenience”.
Apart from extending the invitation, Pakistan’s top diplomat lauded the Iraqi people for their “resilience” against the “serious challenges” they face against “peace and security”.
Qureshi also paid tribute to the Iraqis for the sacrifices they made in the fight against terrorism and also suggested that Islamabad and Baghdad share each other’s “experience and expertise” in the area.
The foreign minister told the Iraqi premier that he had come to the country to “translate Pakistan’s existing friendly relationship with Iraq into a collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership across diverse fields”.
Qureshi briefed Kadhimi on “Pakistan’s focus on building connectivity and economic diplomacy”. He also identified areas, such as tourism, manpower export, infrastructure development, investment and food security, in which the two countries could significantly benefit from enhanced cooperation.
The country’s top diplomat also stated that Pakistan’s wishes to “meet its energy requirements with oil from Iraq”. He laid special emphasis on the need to further strengthen people to people linkages, in particular facilitating thousands of Pakistani Zaireen who visit Iraq every year.
Qureshi seeks ministerial level ‘framework’ between Iraq, Pakistan
Qureshi also emphasised the need for high-level visits between Islamabad and Baghdad for building and carrying forward the “positive momentum in the relationship”.
The Pakistani foreign ministers suggested that the “two countries should develop an overarching framework of political consultations and bilateral cooperation at the Foreign Ministers level to provide impetus to deepening and strengthening mutually beneficial partnership”, said the Foreign Office.
The FO said that the Iraqi PM “welcomed the idea, in principle”.
On the other hand, the Iraqi PM expressed interest in cooperating with Pakistan in the “health sector” and also suggested that the two countries look into the possibility of utilising Pakistan’s health facilities for the Iraqi people. He urged the foreign ministers of both countries to explore tangible collaboration in this field.
Qureshi arrives in Iraq
Foreign Minister Qureshi had arrived in Iraq on Thursday at the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Iraq Fuad Hussein for a three-day trip.
The FO had said that Qureshi would call on the Iraqi leadership and confer with senior Iraqi ministers on bilateral matters about respective areas of cooperation, in particular the issues of the management and well-being of thousands of Pakistani Zaireen visiting sacred sites in Iraq every year.