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Pak presses ECO-partners to pull their weight

Zardari addresses at 11th ECO       summit today
ISTANBUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Wednesday that terrorism, drug-trafficking, transnational-organised-crime and natural disasters were undermining the efforts for economic progress and prosperity of the people, and urged the member states to make their utmost efforts to overcome these hurdles.
“This calls for innovative approaches and focused attention on socioeconomic development of the region,” he said while speaking at the 19th Council of Ministers meeting here, ahead of the 11th ECO head of states summit meeting.
He said that global peace; stability and prosperity were indivisible, adding, global effects of economic and financial turmoil are not far behind us.
He stressed on the need for devising mechanisms to effectively respond to contemporary challenges with enthusiasm and dedication.
The global financial crisis has not been the sole setback. There is a plethora of challenges threatening the region, he said.
Foreign Minister said one of the fundamental objectives of the ECO was to ensure liberalisation of trade through lowering trade barriers. The ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), therefore, remains at the heart of ECO’s ambitions to establish within the region, a free trade area by 2015, he added.
He said that the agreement had the potential to create vast opportunities for the economic uplift of the peoples and together with the Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA) it could prove to be the engine of growth in the region. He said the development of an efficient and modern transportation and communication network among the ECO member states is an important factor in the expansion of trade and socioeconomic integration. Qureshi told the meeting that the existence of trade, transit and transport corridors across the region will guarantee economic development and the prosperity of our people. Foreign Minister said that one of the objectives of the ECO, as stipulated in the Treaty of Izmir, is to enhance efforts for effective utilization of the agricultural potentials of the region. The Foreign Minister informed the meeting that Pakistan would be hosting the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation in January 2011. He said the meeting would render the foundation operational and invited the ministers for science and technology of the ECO member states to participate in the meeting. “We are optimistic that the ECO has the ability to move ahead. I reiterate Pakistan’s commitment to contribute optimally for an early and full realization of ECO’s objectives,” he said. Earlier, Chairman of the Council and Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu told the meeting that upgrading infrastructure and human resource development should be the top priority to achieve the goals set by the member states.-Agencies


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