FM telephones Iranian, Sri Lankan, Nepalese counterparts, discusses COVID-19

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ISLAMABAD, Mar 22 (DNA): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Sunday
telephoned his Iranian and Nepalese counterparts and exchanged views on
situation arising out of the outbreak of COVID-19.Talking to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, he expressed deepsorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives in Iran due to
Coronavirus.

Conveying deep concern and sorrow over the tragic loss of innocent lives
in the on-going pandemic, the Foreign Minister commended the government
and people of Iran for valiantly combating the COVID-19 global pandemic,
the Foreign Office said.

The Foreign Minister 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.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also reiterated the earlier call made by Prime
Minister Imran Khan to lift sanctions against Iran, to enable it to
utilize its resources to save precious human lives. He also apprised the
Iranian Foreign Minister of Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach in this
regard.

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

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appreciated Pakistan’s reaffirmation of
support and solidarity and call to lift sanctions on Iran, in view of
COVID-19. He informed the Foreign Minister that under President Hassan
Rouhani’s instructions, two hospitals had been allocated for foreign
pilgrims from Pakistan and other countries.

The two Foreign Ministers underlined that Pakistan and Iran were not
only close neighbours, but brotherly countries, that had stood by each
other through difficult times. The two leaders agreed to stay in close
contact.

In his conversation with Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali,
Shah Mehmood Qureshi emphasized on activating SAARC platform to deal
with the Coronavirus.

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.

Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the
SAARC Health Ministers’ Conference and suggested that a video conference
could be organized due to the prevailing global health emergency.

Foreign Minister 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 Ministers agreed on the need to work closely to promote
collective endeavours to fight common challenges.

The Foreign Minister noted that 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.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that the Prime Minister of Pakistan 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 people.

The Foreign Minister of Nepal appreciated the proposal. He also
expressed concerns on the humanitarian crisis in Iran.

Foreign Ministers Qureshi and Gayawali further noted that this year
marked the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations
between Pakistan and Nepal. They reiterated mutual commitment to further
strengthening bonds of friendship between the two countries, bilaterally
as well as through regional and international forums.

According to a Foreign Office statement Sunday, 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 abiding commitment to the SAARC process, Foreign Minister
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.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that SAARC provided an important
platform for regional cooperation. There was a need to revitalise this
key Organization to tackle common challenges.

In the context of effective efforts to combat the global pandemic, the
Foreign Minister noted that 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.

Foreign Minister Qureshi further noted that Prime Minister Imran 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 people.

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