ISLAMABAD, Jun 08 (APP): Pakistan and Iraq have agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including trade, agriculture, water management and defence production.
A Joint Statement simultaneously issued in Islamabad and Baghdad mentioned the agreement between the two countries on inclusion of Pakistan in the Iraqi Development Corridor and establishing sister port cities relations between Basra and Karachi, health, textile, pharmaceutical and supporting Iraq’s efforts in their reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during his visit to Iraq from June 05-07 held wide-ranging interactions with Iraqi leadership including with President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament, Interior Minister, Governor of Karbala, Head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, President Al-Hikmet Party and Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Al-Najafi during the visit.
Both sides noted the vital importance of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting, and agreed to hold its next session in the second half of 2023.
It was also agreed to hold Inaugural Session of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC), at the Senior Officials’ level in 2023.
Pakistan and Iraq will continue to promote Parliamentary diplomacy through the exchange of visits and regular contacts between the members of their respective bilateral Parliamentary Friendship Groups.
Both countries would strive to strengthen and expand the bilateral economic, trade and investment ties in the traditional and non-traditional sectors, including by exploiting the existing complementarities and opportunities.
Recognising the huge tourism potential in both countries, Iraq- Pakistan discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism, as well as continue to encourage tourism and hospitality investment in both countries.
In a landmark development, the host Iraqi authorities conveyed their full support for the establishment of a Pakistani Consulate in Najaf which fulfils a longstanding demand of Pakistanis who wanted complete consular services extended to them in the holy city of Hazrat Ali (RA).
The Foreign Minister made a historic announcement of opening up of a pilgrimage centre in the sacred land of Karbala which would fulfil another longstanding demand of Pakistanis visiting during Ashura, Muharram, and Arba’een.
Both sides witnessed the signing of the MoU on Visa Abolition for the holders of diplomatic and official passports between the two countries which will facilitate high level exchanges and closer cooperation and engagements between the two governments.
The Foreign Minister underscored the vital importance of a flexible visa regime for the Zaireen and the businessmen.
The Iraqi side assured of their full support and extending flexible visa regime. The MoU in this regard is scheduled to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Iraqi Interior Minister to Pakistan.
The two sides stressed the need for cooperation between the concerned authorities and strengthening of measures against illegal cross border movement and the fight against smuggling of drugs and illegal substances.
Both leaders warmly welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cultural Cooperation which would positively engage the two countries in the realm of cultural exchanges and cooperation.
Both sides also oversaw and welcomed the signing of an MoU of Cooperation between the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) of Pakistan and Iraq Chamber of Commerce which is aimed to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries and would prove to be a stepping stone towards building a robust economic partnership.
First edition of Pakistan Iraq Business Forum was organized in Baghdad on 5 June 2023 during the visit which was very well attended and afforded a good opportunity of engagement for the businessmen and investors from both sides.
Both sides also witnessed the announcement of creation of Pak-Iraq Business Council which would provide a structured platform for the businessmen and investors from both countries to develop proper business to business linkages and networking for enhancement of bilateral trade ties.
Both Foreign Ministers witnessed the momentous and historic ceremony organized for laying the foundation stone of Pakistan Embassy Complex in Baghdad on the 6th June 2023
The Foreign Minister also congratulated Iraqi leadership for their instrumental role as a peace broker between Iran and Saudi Arabia while emphasizing the need to building bridges and resolving issues amicably to engender economic dividends for the whole region and beyond.
Both sides noted the immense sacrifices of both countries in their counter-terrorism efforts. These gains need to be consolidated and channelled for the economic uplift of the respective countries and its people.
Pakistan’s defence production and defence training institutes were particularly noted due to their quality standards and price competitiveness for cementing and building upon the existing level of cooperation.
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan expressed deep appreciation and sincere gratitude to the Iraqi leadership for their warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during their stay in Iraq.
FM Bilawal extended invitation to the Iraqi President, the Prime Minister and other leadership including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Iraq to visit Pakistan who graciously accepted the invitation. The dates convenient for the same would be determined through diplomatic channels.