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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi led the Pakistan delegation at the Eighteenth ECO Council of Ministers Meeting held in Tehran, Iran yesterday(9 March). The Foreign Minister announced to host the Eleventh ECO Summit in Pakistan in 2010.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of the deepening global financial crisis. The Council endorsed the proposal to establish a Working Group to study the implications of the crisis and suggest corrective measures. It approved Pakistan’s call to expedite implementation of ECO Trade Agreement to increase intraregional trade. All contracting parties agreed to complete necessary procedures to enable timely enforcement of tariff concessions.
The Council approved launch of container train on Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul route. A demonstration run will take place on 14 August 2009.

The meeting noted with satisfaction the progress being made in setting up of ECO Reinsurance Company and ECO Science Foundation both of which will be set up in Pakistan shortly. A Representative Office of ECO Trade and Development Bank will also commence operations in Pakistan this year.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Foreign Minister signed, along with Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Iran, the Additional Protocol to Agreement on Simplification of Visa Procedures for Businessmen and Drivers of ECO Member States.

On the sidelines of the Ministerial event, Foreign Minister Qureshi also held cordial and constructive meetings with his counterparts from Iran and Turkey.

In the meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, the two sides reviewed the entire gambit of bilateral relations, and ways and means to strengthen ties further. Regional issues of mutual interest were discussed. Turkey and Pakistan agreed to cooperate closely to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan and the key role Pakistan and Iran were playing for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan was the main focus of discussions in the meeting between the Foreign Minister and his Iranian counterpart. The two sides agreed to closely coordinate policies with a view to curbing extremism and militancy in the region and to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Iran and Pakistan also agreed to substantially upgrade their bilateral relations, especially in the field of energy, connectivity and bilateral trade.

March 10, 2009

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