ISLAMABAD, Feb 16: Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi while stressing the importance of a broad-based and structured relationship between Pakistan and the United States for promoting shared interests, said that his country looked forward to enhancing cooperation with the United States in trade, energy and business sectors.
The foreign minister said this in a meeting with a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany, a Foreign Office statement said.
Sen. Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Graham was joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D), Senator Chris Coons (D), Senator Rick Scott (R), Senator John Barrasso (R), Senator Bob Menendez (D).
Meanwhile from the US House of Representatives Congressmen Mike Gallagher (R), Jim Banks (R), Mac Thornberry (R), Mike Turner(R), Tom Malinowski (D), Jim Langevin (D), Elise Stefanik (R), Elissa Slotkin (D), Dan Crenshaw (R) and Joe Wilson (R) attended the meeting. Former Senators Joe Lieberman and Saxby Chambliss also joined the US lawmakers.
The foreign minister said that close engagement between Pakistan and the United States had historically proved to be a factor for stability in South Asia.
He said his government was pursuing an ambitious domestic agenda of reform and people-centric development, which was contingent on peace and stability in Pakistan’s neighborhood.
Above all, Pakistan wanted to see peace return to Afghanistan, he said and recalled that Pakistan had always held that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
He said Pakistan had therefore welcomed the United States’ renewed emphasis on achieving a peaceful, political settlement in Afghanistan, and was extending its fullest support to the efforts of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad to that end.
Foreign Minister Qureshi welcomed recent progress in the Afghan peace process but stressed that a final settlement would remain elusive without the ownership of all Afghan parties as well as the broader region.
Sen. Graham appreciated Pakistan’s support for peace in Afghanistan, noting that the progress made in last month’s Doha talks would not have been possible without Pakistan’s assistance.
Recalling his recent visit to Pakistan, the senator said that he had been impressed by the successes Pakistan had achieved in its fight against terrorism.
He echoed the foreign minister’s desire for a strategic and comprehensive partnership between Pakistan and the United States and stressed upon establishing a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.