FM Qureshi holds deliberation on COVID-19

By Staff Reporter
Monday – March 23, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The foreign minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephonic conversations with his counterparts in Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka, on Sunday, engaging in detailed discussions on the situation arising from the spread of COVID-19 (the Corona virus), and the ways to enhance cooperation to combat the threat posed by the rapid spread of the pandemic, challenges faced by regional States and the need for joint efforts came under review.

According to official statements, in his conversation with Iranian FM Javad Zarif, FM Qureshi conveying deep concern and sorrow over the tragic loss of innocent lives in the on-going pandemic, commended the government and people of Iran for valiantly combating the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The FM underscored that the pandemic was one of the greatest challenges to confront humanity in a century, successfully overcoming it necessitated both compassion and innovation. He apprised his Iranian counterpart of Pakistan’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

FM Qureshi reiterated the earlier call made by prime minister (PM) Imran Khan to lift sanctions against Iran, to enable it to utilise its resources to save precious human lives. He also apprised the Iranian FM of Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach in this regard.

The prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation and coordination at the border in the context of the ongoing pandemic, also came under discussion.

Iranian FM Zarif appreciated Pakistan’s reaffirmation of support and solidarity and call to lift sanctions on Iran, in view of COVID-19.

Iranian FM Zarif informed the FM that under Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s instructions, two hospitals had been allocated for foreign pilgrims from Pakistan and other countries.

The two underlined that Pakistan and Iran were not only close neighbours, but also brotherly countries, that had stood by each other through difficult times.

The two leaders agreed to stay in close contact.  

Separately, FM Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with his Nepalese counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Detailed discussions were held on the situation arising from the spread of COVID-19, and ways to enhance cooperation to combat the threat posed by the rapid spread of the pandemic. Challenges faced by regional States and the need for joint efforts came under review.

FM Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) health ministers’ conference and suggested that a video conference could be organised due to the prevailing global health emergency.

FM Qureshi stated that Pakistan considered SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation. He appreciated Nepal’s leadership role as chair in steering the SAARC process forward, despite the many odds.

The two agreed on the need to work closely to promote collective endeavours to fight common challenges.

FM noted, Pakistan has proposed that sanctions on Iran be lifted so that humanitarian relief can be provided at this time of crisis to save precious human lives.

FM Qureshi said that PM Khan had also proposed that developed countries may facilitate developing countries to meet the challenge through debt restructuring so that they can use limited resources to mitigate the effects of this pandemic on their economies and provide effective relief to poor.

Nepalese FM appreciated the proposal and expressed concerns on the humanitarian crisis in Iran.

The foreign ministers Qureshi and Gyawali further noted that this year marked the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Nepal.

They reiterated mutual commitment to further strengthen bonds of friendship between the two countries, bilaterally as well as through regional and international forums.

Separately, FM Qureshi held telephonic conversation with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two foreign ministers had detailed exchange of views on the situation arising from COVID-19 outbreak and ways to enhance cooperation to combat the threat posed by the rapid spread of the pandemic, challenges faced by regional States and the need for joint efforts came under review.

Reaffirming the abiding of commitment to the SAARC process, FM Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the SAARC health ministers’ conference to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in the health sector, with particular focus on COVID-19.

He also proposed that a video conference could be organised first in view of the prevailing global health emergency.

FM Qureshi underscored that SAARC provided an important platform for regional cooperation, there was a need to revitalise this key organisation to tackle common challenges. 

In the context of effective efforts to combat the global pandemic, the FM noted that Pakistan has proposed that sanctions on Iran be lifted so that humanitarian relief is provided at this time of crisis to save precious human lives.

FM Qureshi further noted that PM Khan has proposed that developed countries may facilitate developing countries to meet the challenge through debt restructuring so that they can use limited resources to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their economies and provide effective relief to poor.

The two agreed to work closely to promote collaborative endeavours for regional benefit.


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