Pakistan

ECO has the potential to strengthen region: Sartaj Aziz

ISLAMABAD: Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday called for increasing trade and investment opportunities and  human resource development between Economic Cooperation Organisation member states.

Addressing the council of foreign ministers meeting preceding the ECO Summit which will be held in Islamabad tomorrow, Sartaj Aziz said the body has immense potential to integrate and strengthen the region.

The ten-member summit is expected to review the state of affairs of ECO in the light of new emerging global and regional circumstances, and agree on the course of action to increase regional economic cooperation between member states.

Sartaj Aziz was earlier elected as chairman of 22nd Council of Ministers meeting of ECO. The meeting will approve ECO Vision 2025 and the text of the Islamabad Declaration which contains salient points of cooperation in connectivity, trade, transport and energy fields to be adopted in the summit.

He pointed that the volume of trade was lower than other regional grouping, Aziz called for the need to eliminate non-trade barriers and other obstacles which hamper trade and progress despite establishing a free-trade agreement.

He expressed hope that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor will benefit all ECO member states and the region. He asked the ECO countries to use Gwadar for economical trade of their goods to other countries.

Aziz called on the  need to increase the membership, scope and activities of ECO Trade and Development Bank as well as ECO Re-Insurance Company. He also proposed enhanced cooperation of public and private sectors of member states through ECO Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He thanked ECO Secretary General Halil Ibrahim for his services, and called for increasing bilateral relations between member states which can help achieve the objectives of the summit into a formidable bloc.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is also representing this country at the summit while Afghanistan is represented by envoy Omar Zakhiwal.

Iranian Foreign Minister  and outgoing chairman of ECO Summit Jawad Zarif said the organisation should invest more time and energy for implementation of ECO Vision 2025.

He thanked Pakistan for the exceptional hosting and said the member-states want ECO to focus on projects which bring about maximum economic benefits to members and the region as a whole.

Expressing confidence that Vision 2025 and associated plans of action would broaden regional integration and cohesion, he said continued regional cooperation would require enhanced institutional and operational capacities in the organization.

Mr. Zarif yesterday on his arrival had said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran are getting further strengthened and that his country gives high importance to ECO summit.

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