ISLAMABAD, MAR 24 (DNA) – Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Minister for Foreign Affairs A.K. Abdul Momen.The two Ministers discussed the challenges faced by regional countries in the face of rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and exchanged ideas on ways to combat the threat.
Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that Pakistan considered SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation. Reaffirming Pakistan’s abiding commitment to the SAARC process, he reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the SAARC Health Ministers’ conference to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in health sector with particular focus on COVID-19. He proposed that a video conference could be organized first in view of the prevailing situation. Appreciating Pakistan’s offer, Foreign Minister Momen conveyed Bangladesh’s readiness to participate in the video conference.
Discussing the need to share resources, it was underlined that SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund should be placed under the Secretary General of SAARC and the modalities for its utilization should be finalized through consultations at the earliest.
Foreign Minister Qureshi also suggested that SAARC should evaluate and coordinate on the economic and social disruption caused by COVID-19 and experts from the member countries should commence work in this regard immediately.
Expressing concern over the economic challenges faced by the developing countries due to the global pandemic, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the need for debt restructuring by developed countries and the international financial institutions so that the available resources could be utilized to deal with the unprecedented global health emergency. Agreeing with the proposal, Foreign Minister Momen underscored the need to raise the issue at the G-77 forum.
Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that Iran was faced with serious challenges due to COVID-19, which were further aggravated due to the continuing economic sanctions against it. He emphasized the need for immediate lifting of those sanctions, enabling Iranian authorities to utilize their resources for saving precious human lives.
Foreign Minister Qureshi assured his Bangladeshi counterpart that all Bangladeshi citizens in Pakistan were being looked after by the Government of Pakistan as its own people.
The two Foreign Ministers stressed the need for joint efforts to address the situation. They agreed to work closely to realize collective endeavours for common benefit.