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Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ms. Rama Yade met on the sidelines of the 9th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi. Bilateral relations, Afghanistan, and Pakistan-EU relations were discussed.

The Foreign Secretary underlined the importance Pakistan attached to a comprehensive up-gradation of its relations with France and noted that the meeting of the two Presidents in Paris recently had advanced this objective. He stressed the importance of robust follow-up on the understandings reached on expanding bilateral collaboration in diverse fields, including energy security. The Foreign Secretary also underlined Pakistan’s commitment to work closely with France to ensure substantive preparations for President Sarkozy’s visit to Pakistan later this year.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir stressed that security and sustainable economic development were Pakistan’s strategic priorities. He briefed the Secretary of State on the resolute national efforts to fight militancy, noting that the political leadership and the nation were united in this endeavor. He also outlined government’s efforts to provide relief assistance to the displaced population.

On the regional plane, the Foreign Secretary highlighted Pakistan’s efforts at the bilateral level as well as constructive engagement in several regional and trilateral frameworks to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. He particularly stressed the importance of the development dimension to ensure long-term stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

On relations with European Union (EU), the Foreign Secretary emphasized Pakistan’s desire to deepen its political, trade and economic ties. He noted that the forthcoming Pakistan-EU summit in Brussels was a landmark event in terms of laying the foundations of broader, long-term and mutually-beneficial partnership. He expressed the hope that France will contribute fully to ensuring a substantive outcome of the summit.

Secretary of State Rama Yade expressed France’s commitment to building a strong partnership with Pakistan, noting that President Sarkozy regarded this relationship as a priority. She added that France would work closely with Pakistan for the visit of President Sarkozy.

The Secretary of State expressed full support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and reiterated that France would continue to help with the relief and rehabilitation of the displaced people. In the regional context, she appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and its participation in various frameworks for this purpose. The Secretary of State also conveyed France’s readiness to help consolidate Pakistan-EU ties and facilitate a substantive outcome of the June Summit.

28 May 2009

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