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ELM News ImageEU Troika agrees to intensify relations with Pakistan

On 8 February 2007, the Troika of the European Union met with Pakistan in the Federal Foreign Office.

Pakistan is an important partner to the EU in Asia, and a major factor in the stability of the South Asian region. The country also plays an active role in multilateral organizations such as the UN or the G77, of which it holds the chairmanship this year.

The EU delegation was headed by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri heading the Pakistan delegation. Portugal, the next Member State to take on the EU Council Presidency, was represented by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Professor João Gomes Cravinho.

Federal Minister Steinmeier praised the moderating role which the Pakistan Government plays in the Islamic world.

Regarding relations with the EU, Mr Steinmeier explained that the parties had agreed to make tangible progress in the implementation of the bilateral cooperation agreement of 2004 in the near future. Foreign Minister Kasuri announced in this respect the relaunching of talks in the Joint EU-Pakistan Commission in Islamabad within the year. This forum provides an opportunity to discuss issues relating to trade, development and human rights. Mr Kasuri spoke of Pakistan as an attractive location for trade and investment, which also had much to offer European companies.

Mr Steinmeier also explained that the EU would intensify links with Pakistan beyond the cooperation agreement. The Troika meeting saw the adoption of a substantial "Joint Declaration" which could, among other things, provide the basis for a formal political dialogue. Mr Steinmeier referred particularly to efforts to combat terrorism and drugs in this respect. The dialogue should also focus more closely on questions of interreligious dialogue, non-proliferation and human rights.

With regard to the situation in Afghanistan, the Troika strongly advocated that Pakistan and its neighbouring country make efforts to intensify mutual relations and cooperation with a view to overcoming the prevailing challenges in the region and on the border. The EU would provide the support necessary to this end, said Mr Steinmeier.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister reiterated his country’s willingness to ensure sufficient border protection. He said that Pakistan currently had 80,000 soldiers stationed on the border and had already stopped a considerable number of suspects. Efforts would now have to be made on all sides. The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan had now distanced itself from plans to plant mines along the border, but still intended to secure the latter with a border fence in some areas.

The EU also acknowledged progress made in relations between Pakistan and India, saying that the moderate policy pursued by both countries had led to a noticeable decrease in tension in recent years.

The EU intends to significantly extend its material support for Pakistan. The EU Commission announced that it would double its commitments in the fields of business and development cooperation for the period 2007 – 2010 to a total of 200 million euro.

Recent months have been characterized by a steady deepening of relations between the EU and Pakistan, as seen in the recent Brussels visits by President Musharraf in September 2006 and Prime Minister Aziz in January 2007.