Pakistan and Bahrain pledge to discuss FTA
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Bahrain agreed on Monday to discuss a Free Trade Agreement, and boost cooperation in trade, economic and defence fields as Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa began a three-day visit to the country.
The two prime ministers led their delegations at formal talks centred on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the situation in Iraq and the Middle East crisis. The talks were preceded by 45-minute talk between the two leaders.
The two countries agreed to initiate talks on a FTA and to sign an Early Harvest Agreement to bring the two countries closer. They agreed to increase the number of flights to strengthen people-to-people contact, increase bilateral visits and encourage joint ventures between private and public sectors.
The Bahrain premier, who arrived late in the evening, drove straight to the Prime Minister’s House where Aziz received the distinguished guest for a formal welcome ceremony. The two prime ministers later oversaw the signing of agreement on double taxation avoidance and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on economic, trade and technical cooperation.
Aziz hoped the first visit by his Bahrain counterpart would help enhance mutually beneficial relations between the two countries. He said Bahrain was an important country of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its geographical location had enhanced the country’s significance manifold.
Khalifa praised President General Pervez Musharraf and Aziz for leading Pakistan on the road to development, in particular their efforts to improve the economy that registered 8.4 percent growth during the current fiscal year. He also lauded Pakistan’s role as a front-line state in the ongoing war on international terrorism and President Musharraf’s vision of ‘enlightened moderation’ to bridge the gap between Islam and the West.
The Bahraini prime minister also welcomed the ongoing dialogue between Pakistan and India as a “positive development” for the peace and stability in the region. He lauded the role of over 45,000 Pakistani expatriates in Bahrain’s development and hoped they would continue to contribute to increase trade and commercial links between the two countries.
Khalifa said Bahrain considered Pakistani people as brothers, who played a key role in the country’s progress and development, adding that Bahrain was keen to import more manpower from Pakistan.
Aziz said Pakistan was interested in seeking cooperation from Bahrain in Islamic Banking and its experiences in the financial sector. He urged the Bahrain entrepreneurs to explore investment opportunities in Pakistan, which offers level-playing field to both local and foreign investors. He also apprised his counterpart of Pakistan’s relations with India and efforts for peace in the region. He said Pakistan saw itself as an anchor for peace in the region. He said the two countries were making progress and the relations were moving in the right direction. Both countries agreed on the need of a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute in line with the wishes of the Kashmiri people for durable peace in South Asia. app