ISLAMABAD, May 4 (APP): The First Ministerial review of the Pakistan-Italy Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) was held in Rome on Thursday and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy, Angelino Alfano led their respective sides.
According to a foreign office statement, the two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations. They expressed satisfaction at the deepening ties between Pakistan and Italy, and the progress under various strands of the SEP.
Terming the SEP a comprehensive document, which represents a long-term commitment to work together to further strengthen this partnership, the two sides agreed to intensify efforts to achieve the objectives set out under this framework.
Acknowledging the growing frequency of high-level interaction between the two sides, they agreed to enhance leadership-level interaction to further boost the existing relationship.
In the economic sphere, the two sides renewed their commitment to further expand bilateral trade. It was also agreed to undertake measures to promote investment and joint ventures. Pakistan appreciated Italian support in the EU and the two sides agreed to continue collaboration on EU related matters.
The two sides appreciated the outcome of the second session of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in Islamabad in December 2016, which identified key areas of economic and development cooperation, including infrastructure development, renewable energy, automotive sector, pharmaceuticals, agro-industry and mining. They agreed to expeditiously implement the decisions reached at the JEC.
Taking note of the growing cooperation in the field of defence, the two sides agreed to further deepen cooperation in this area. Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues of importance, including Afghanistan, Pakistan- India relations, Mediterranean and Sahel regions, migration and the EU.
Pakistan and Italy termed terrorism as a major threat, which needs to be eradicated through greater international cooperation. They expressed satisfaction at ongoing collaboration between the two sides in this sphere.
Both sides expressed satisfaction at their continued cooperation at the UN and other multilateral forums. As members of the Uniting for Consensus (Ufc), Pakistan and Italy work closely and have similar positions on the issue of Security Council Reform. They agreed that while refusing to accept self-serving agenda on reforms and expansion of the UN Security Council, they would remain flexible and constructive.
On membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), both sides agreed on a criteria based and non-discriminatory approach.
The two sides agreed to enhance the ongoing collaboration in the field of culture and encourage people-to-people contacts. The Italian side welcomed the positive contribution made by the 130,000 strong Pakistani diaspora in further strengthening the relationship between the two countries.
They expressed satisfaction at the initiation of consular talks in parallel with the last round of Bilateral Political Consultations in Islamabad in 2016 and agreed to work together to enhance cooperation on migration and consular matters.
Pakistan and Italy signed the Strategic Engagement Plan in 2013. It provides a framework for a strategic partnership in areas, including trade and economy, development cooperation, defence and security, science, culture, education and migration. The plan stipulates Annual Bilateral Consultation at the Foreign Secretary level and triennial Ministerial to assist the progress.