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May 7, 2006

Musharraf seeks greater access to Swiss markets for Pakistani goods


May 7, 2006

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf has stressed the need for strengthening economic relations between Pakistan and Switzerland and called for greater trade access to Pakistani goods in the Swiss market.

Pakistan is a rising economy with great potentials and Swiss investors could invest in infrastructure, information technology and other important areas of the country, he said during a meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who is also the vice president of the Swiss Confederation. A wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues were discussed in the meeting.

The president thanked Calmy-Rey for Switzerland’s commitment of $ 40 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation following the 8 Oct earthquake. He appreciated the technical cooperation extended by Swiss Development Cooperation Agency in various projects in the NWFP.

Musharraf apprised the foreign minister about Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism and maintained that a holistic approach by the international community would be required to defeat the menace of terrorism, which would combine political and diplomatic efforts with development cooperation aimed at reforming and strengthening institutions of civil society and economy.

He emphasised that in this era of globalisation and connectivity through technological means, it was imperative that there should be greater cultural harmony, religious tolerance and respect for each other’s beliefs and religious symbols. He underlined the need for promoting interfaith harmony.

The minister agreed with the president’s views and said maintaining religious and cultural harmony was essential for having a progressive society.

She maintained that the resolution of the Palestinian conflict was essential to bring peace and stability in Middle East and stressed that the issues of disempowerment and economic exclusion are generating extremism within societies.

The Swiss foreign

minister lauded the role played by Pakistan in the international fight against terrorism.

Switzerland, she said, is keen to expand relations with Pakistan, especially in commercial and development sectors. In this regard, she briefed the president on the projects being undertaken by the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency in Pakistan.

In his meeting with the Swiss foreign minister, who called on him at the Prime Minister House the same day, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan given its geo-strategic location was playing a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability in a region facing many challenges and wanted the resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue.

He said Pakistan valued its friendship with Switzerland and emphasised that the bilateral relations between the two countries should be multifaceted.

He stressed more cooperation between the two countries particularly in the areas of science and technology, livestock and agricultural, and pharmaceuticals, where technology transfer could assist Pakistan in adding value to its existing industries.

A host of issues relating to further expansion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Switzerland and regional and international issues also came under discussion.

Talking of interfaith harmony, Shaukat called upon the international community to work harder to promote interfaith and inter-civilisation harmony.

“Interfaith harmony is the best gift we can give to our future generations,” he said.

On Afghanistan, the premier underlined the need for the world to do more to assist the country in its reconstruction process.

On the Iranian nuclear issue, he said Pakistan is opposed to nuclear proliferation. However, he added, Iran had a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the IAEA safeguards. Pakistan was in favour of a peaceful resolution of the issue through dialogue and was opposed to any coercive measures against Iran, he maintained.

Referring to Pak-India relations, the prime minister said Pakistan was engaged in a dialogue process with India for the resolution of all outstanding issues, including the core dispute of Kashmir.

He stressed that a sustainable peace in the region would be possible only after the resolution of the Kashmir issue acceptable to all the three parties - Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir.

Commenting on the defence and security issues, he said Pakistan is a peace-loving country, has no aggressive designs against any country and pursues a policy of maintaining minimum credible deterrence.

On the issue of terrorism, he expressed Pakistan’s resolve to fight the menace out of the conviction that it is in the country’s own interest.

Terrorism knows no borders and needs to be eliminated through collective efforts and at the same time, the root causes of terrorism must be addressed, he said.

Shaukat said Pakistan is in a transition and still faces many challenges. In the social sector, the government has prioritised health, education, population control and women empowerment as the major thrust areas, he added.

Calmy-Rey expressed the desire to enhance cooperation between Pakistan and Switzerland in the economic and social sectors. She welcomed the rising investments in Pakistan by Swiss businessmen.

She appreciated the investment-friendly policies of Pakistan and said Swiss companies operating in Pakistan were happy and planning to make more investments. Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan Denis Feldmeyer and senior officials also attended the meeting.

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