ISLAMABAD: With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s two high-profile foreign visits already scheduled in the coming weeks, broader contours are being drawn for his proposed visit to South Korea, the schedule for which is reported to be in the preparatory phase.
According to informed officials at the Foreign Office, the PM Secretariat has formally confirmed to the FO the dates for PM Nawaz’s upcoming two-day visit to Iran (May 11-12), which have accordingly been intimated to the Iranian embassy here. Prior to this visit, Nawaz Sharif is to visit United Kingdom in the last week of this month or the next month’s first week.
“The exact dates in this context are being worked in coordination with the British High Commission here. As soon as this is done, the visit’s details would be issued,” the FO sources said, adding that the prime minister’s UK visit would be followed by that of Iran.
Moreover, the two visits would follow the arrival of Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli in Pakistan on the coming Thursday, for a two-day visit in connection with the Joint Ministerial Commission’s meeting on border security issues. Earlier this month, Pakistan said it wanted the commission’s meeting before the PM’s landing in Tehran in order to have “substantive agenda” for the premier’s visit.
The reported agenda of Nawaz’s stay in Tehran is discussions on Iran Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline, power trade, border security issues and cross-border smuggling. Iran has offered Pakistan supply of up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity, while the federal cabinet recently approved the import of 1,100 MW from Iran. Also, the PM Secretariat is said to have confirmed to the FO PM Nawaz’s visit to South Korea sometime in the ongoing year, while instructing the FO to prepare a tentative schedule in coordination with the Korean authorities in this regard.
“The PM Office has given a green signal as far as premier’s proposed visit to South Korea is concerned. Accordingly, the Korean authorities would be intimated in due course of time and the visit could take place this year subject to the confirmation from the other side,” an official at the FO said on the condition of anonymity. The proposed visit is to entail economic prospects in the backdrop of South Korea’s expected involvement in the construction of Karachi-Lahore Motorway, Expressway in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the revamping of Pakistan Railways, he said.
In recent conversations with Daily Times on separate occasions, the PM’s spokesman and Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid confirmed that the premier’s visit to Iran was expected by mid-May while indicating that his visit to South Korea was also on the cards.
The FO says Nawaz’s visit to the UK is taking place on the invitation of his British counterpart, David Cameron, to discuss progress on Enhanced Strategic Partnership and trade related issues, while the PM is visiting Iran on the request of Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. No official word has come from the FO on Nawaz Sharif’s proposed visit to South Korea.
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