ISLAMABAD: Pakistan accorded high priority to its relations with the South East Asian nations and recognised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) vast economic potential and its centrality in the regional architecture, a government official said on Friday.
Addressing the Experts Dialogue on “Pakistan-Asean: Shared Future and the Way Forward”, co-organised by the Embassy of Indonesia and the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underscored Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthen Pakistan-Asean partnership in all dimensions.
He specifically stressed the importance of forging closer cooperation in the political, economic, security, tourism, education and socio-cultural domains.
The foreign secretary also highlighted the range of steps taken by the Pakistan government to foster multifaceted engagement with Asean and the commitment to deepen trade and economic linkages with its member states.
This was in line with Pakistan’s economic diplomacy outreach and consistent with the leadership’s emphasis on geo-economics, he said, and encouraged the Asean member countries to consider investment in the Special Economic Zones of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
Mahmood also underlined the importance for Pakistani businessmen to see how mutually-beneficial collaboration could be achieved by engaging with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), recently concluded by Asean and its key trading partners.
He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue working towards the upgradation of its relationship with Asean to the level of Full Dialogue Partner (FDP), and also emphasised the importance of hard and soft connectivity between Pakistan and Asean, including in transportation, communication and cyber domains, between the ports, and among the people.
Pakistan has been a Sectoral Dialogue Partner of Asean since 1993 and is also a member of Asean Regional Forum (ARF) since 2004.
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