September 19, 2013| Media Briefing|
(2013-09-19)[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
As you are aware, the Prime Minister has concluded his visit to Turkey which he undertook at the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from 16-18 September, 2013 to co-chair the 3rd Session of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) Meeting with his Turkish counterpart.The HLCC at the Prime Ministerial level between Pakistan and Turkey was established during the visit of Prime Minister Erdogan to Pakistan in October, 2009. The First Session of HLCC was held in December 2010 in Ankara while the Second Session of the Council took place in May 2012 in Islamabad. The HLCC is mandated to oversee and steer the unique partnership and intensify cooperation between the two countries.
In Ankara, the Prime Minister held one-on-one meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul who hosted a lunch in his honour. The Prime Minister was also conferred upon Turkey’s highest civil award “Jumhuriyet Nishan” by President Gul.
The Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Turkey, after concluding a very productive 3rd Session of the HLCC, signed a Joint Declaration which, inter alia, emphasized the need to ensureeffective implementation and follow-up of the decisions taken; further intensive exchanges at the leadership level, parliamentarians, businessmen as well as civil society and media representatives; and, continue close cooperation at regional and international fora.
As a true reflection of the political reality and existing excellent bilateral strategic relations, the HLCC was re-named as the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC). The HLSCC shall continue to be the main political forum that would guide Pak-Turkey relations in all fields. Among other things, the HLSCC decided to intensify relations in a broad range of areas including energy, trade, finance, transportation, infrastructure development, security, education and culture.
The Prime Minister’s discussions with the Turkish leadership were marked by a shared view on issues of regional and international importance as well as of matters of mutual concern. A total of 12 wide-ranging Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and Agreements were signed on the occasion.
1. Joint Declaration of the 3rd HLSCC
2. MoU for Cooperation and Information Exchange between the Under-secretariat of Treasury of Turkey and the SECP
3. MoU for Cooperation in Tax Matters
4. MoU on Strengthening Cooperation in the field of Education
5. Renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme
6. Agreement on the Establishment, Functioning and Activities of Cultural Centers
7. Framework agreement between Ministry of Housing and Works and TOKI
8. MoU for Cooperation in Technical and Vocational Training
9. Cooperation Protocol on Security
10. MoU on Civil Aviation
11. Agreement on the Transfer of Offenders
12. Protocol on Cooperation in Science and Technology between the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) and Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF)
The Prime Minister laid a floral wreath at the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk and paid rich tribute to him. He also visited the Turkish Aerospace Industries and a low cost Housing Project undertaken by Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI).
In Istanbul, the Prime Minister addressed a well-attended Business Forum, where he elucidated on the in-vogue business friendly policies of his Government and invited Turkish businessmen and investors to become partners in mutually beneficial relationships.
The Prime Minister’s meetings with the Turkish leadership and his interaction with the Turkish businessmen provided an excellent opportunity to reinforce Pakistan’s strong desire for forging a comprehensive strategic partnership with Turkey, aimed specifically at bringing a qualitative and quantitative change in bilateral economic and trade relations.
At the Joint Press stakeout, the Prime Minister highlighted the fact that as two functioning and strong democracies, perspectives of both Pakistan and Turkey were marked by shared objectives. The Prime Minister stated that both countries needed to redouble their efforts to promote peace and stability in the region. The Prime Minister also expressed confidence that both countries would be able to carry forward the positive momentum generated by the 3rd HLSCC Meeting into a comprehensive framework of bilateral cooperation.
The 4th HLSCC Meeting will be held in 2014 in Islamabad.
Now the floor is open for your questions.
My question is regarding Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the US, could you officially tell us the dates of this visit? How many confirmations have the Foreign Office received regarding the Prime Minister’s meeting with the world leaders?
Secondly, would you specifically tell us the dates of the meeting between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan? The government of Pakistan and the US are also considering arranging a meeting between the US President and Prime Minister of Pakistan in Washington. Can you confirm?
The Prime Minister will be visiting New York from 23 to 29 September 2013 to attend the 68th annual session of the UN General Assembly. The Prime Minister will address the General Assembly on 27 September. The Prime Minister’s other engagements include meetings with a number of heads of state/government. The Prime Minister will also be addressing some of the high level events being organized on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session, including on Sustainable Development, Millennium Development Goals, and Nuclear Disarmament.
As regards your question about the proposed meeting of the Prime Minister with his Indian counterpart, the two governments are in touch with each other on the matter. We will confirm the meeting after a decision has been made.
Regarding the proposed meeting of the Prime Minister with the US President, the two governments are in touch with each other and the meeting will be scheduled in the coming months.
On one side we are talking about support to reconciliation process in Afghanistan and on the other hand, a very bad incident happened on Pak-Afghan border yesterday. I would like to have your comments?
Secondly, does Pakistan still consider Afghanistan a friendly state? If yes, what is the known reason of yesterday’s event?
As stated in our Press Release yesterday, Pakistan is concerned at the cross border firing by Afghan Border Police that led to the martyrdom of five Pakistani citizens. We summoned the Afghan Charge d’ Affaires to the Foreign Office last evening and asked him to convey our concerns to the Afghan government. We have requested the Afghan government to investigate the matter, respect the border coordination and cooperation mechanisms, and avoid recurrence of such incidents in future. Afghanistan is a brotherly neighboring country. Pakistan desires good neighborly with Afghanistan. The leadership of the two countries met recently and agreed on building strong relations between two countries. We hope that in the larger interest of peace the Afghan government will investigate this incident and take steps to stop recurrence of such incidents.
Mr. Sartaj Aziz has ruled out the possibility of a meeting between Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers on the sidelines of UN General Assembly. What are your comments?
Secondly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he will decide about the release of Mullah Baradar on his return to Pakistan. There are reports that Mullah Baradar can be handed over to KSA or Turkey. Can you confirm or deny these reports?
As stated in response to an earlier question, the two governments are in touch with each other on the proposed meeting between the two Prime Ministers. We will be able to confirm the meeting only after a decision has been made.
As for your second question regarding the release of Mullah Baradar, our Government has already announced its decision in principle to release him at an appropriate time.
Mr. Sartaj Aziz has said that the expectations are low from the possible meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan. There is also an Indian reluctance to talk. What are your comments?
Secondly, you did not comment on the media reports about the possibility of Mullah Baradar being handed over to Turkey. How important is Turkey going to be for Pakistan viz-e-viz Afghanistan?
The first question is a repeat of the earlier ones. As I said, the two governments are in touch with each other. As soon as we have a decision, we will make an announcement of that.
As for your second question, Pakistan has close relations with Turkey as manifested by the visit of the Prime Minister. Your comment about Mullah Baradar being handed over to any other country is speculative and I will therefore not answer that.
What issues will be highlighted by the Prime Minister of Pakistan during his address to the UN General Assembly? On what issues the Foreign Office has briefed him in the context of regional and international situations?
The address of the Prime Minister to the UN General Assembly provides an opportunity for the government to project its domestic and foreign policy priorities as well as Pakistan’s perspective on major regional and international issues.
Will the Prime Minister of Pakistan raise the issue of drone strike in his address to the UN General Assembly?
Secondly, the Afghan Narcotics Minister has alleged Pakistan that raw material is smuggled into Waziristan which is smuggled back to Afghanistan as a finished product. What are your comments?
Thirdly, Pakistan is showing so many goodwill gestures to Afghanistan by releasing Afghan prisoners. But President Hamid Karzai has accused Pakistan for helping Afghan Taliban. He said that Afghan Taliban are living in Islamabad and moving in the government vehicles. What are your comments?
On the issue of drone strikes, Pakistan’s position has been clearly articulated by our leadership and it will be projected at the United Nations.
On your question about Afghan Minister’s statement, I have not seen that statement. But our policy on narcotics control is well known. Pakistan remains engaged with all regional countries and international community to fight narcotics smuggling. The world has recognized the significant role played by Pakistan in eliminating the menace of narcotics drugs from Pakistan and our region.
On the statement attributed to Afghan President that you referred to, I have not seen that statement. But as I said the leadership of Pakistan has taken the initiative of promoting cooperative relations with all neighbors of Pakistan including Afghanistan. The Afghan President recently visited Pakistan at the invitation of the Prime Minister to carry forward the process of improving bilateral relations. It is our hope and expectation that the sincere and constructive approach being pursued by Pakistan will be reciprocated.
The government of Pakistan has decided to have talks with TTP and other groups hiding in Tribal areas. Has any country expressed its concerns on Pakistan’s decision to have dialogue with TTP?
This is our internal matter. No country has offered any comments.
Pakistan has released 33 Taliban prisoners. What is the assessment of the government of Pakistan regarding the released detainees? Has it helped?
The government of Pakistan has released the Taliban detainees with only one motivation which is to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process. We will continue to take all such measures that we deem as helpful for the reconciliation process in the larger interest of lasting peace in Afghanistan.
India appears reluctant to talk to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif due to various factors including upcoming elections in India and the LoC factor. Secondly President Barak Obama has also withdrawn his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. What political dividends will we have from this visit?
The visit of Prime Minister to UN General Assembly is of great significance. The UN General Assembly provides the most representative international forum to project the policy priorities and perspective of Pakistan on key issues of regional and international importance. This will also provide an opportunity for our leadership to engage with the leaders of other countries to promote bilateral relations. On the sidelines of the Assembly, the Prime Minister will also participate in a number of high level events on important subjects like Sustainable development, Millennium Development Goals, etc.
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