ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the Pakistan delegation at the 9th Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) Ministerial Conference, being held on March 30 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, says a Ministry of Foreign affairs statement.

The ministerial meeting will be preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on March 29. The theme of the Conference is “Strengthening Consensus for Peace and Development.”

During the Ministerial Conference, Foreign Minister Qureshi will deliver a statement highlighting Pakistan’s positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and its support for Afghanistan’s development and connectivity within the regional framework. On the sidelines of the conference, the foreign minister will hold consultations with key regional and international partners.

The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, initiated in 2011, is an important platform to promote peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan through regional cooperation, confidence-building measures (CBMs), and dialogue. Pakistan attaches high importance to this process and has been a regular contributor to the advancement of its objectives. Pakistan is the lead country for Disaster Management and Agriculture Development CBMs under the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

In 2015, Pakistan co-chaired the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, along with Afghanistan, and hosted its fifth Ministerial Conference in Islamabad.

During his visit to Dushanbe, the Foreign Minister will have bilateral engagement with the Tajik leadership. Besides holding talks with Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Foreign Minister Qureshi will have interaction with other Tajik dignitaries and review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

Pakistan highly values its close fraternal ties with countries in Central Asia. Pakistan’s relations with Tajikistan are firmly rooted in common faith, shared history, and geographic proximity. There is a mutual interest in developing close cooperative ties in all areas. Pakistan hopes that the return of peace and stability in Afghanistan would further strengthen its historic links with Central Asia, including Tajikistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi’s visit to Tajikistan will help deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and reinforce the growing partnership between the two brotherly countries.

Speculations ran rife that there is a possibility of a meeting between Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers.

Sources in the capital denied that any such meeting is on the cards on the sidelines of the conference. Neither Pakistan nor India has requested such a meeting, they added.

AFGHAN PRESIDENT: Meanwhile, according to Afghan media, President Ashraf Ghani will attend the meeting on March 30 and join representatives from at least 50 countries and international organisations.

“We need more coordination within Afghanistan and more coordination to ensure international and regional consensus for a just and enduring peace, a peace that preserves our gains. This is one of our main messages,” said the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Mirwais Nab.

The meeting is being held two weeks ahead of the upcoming peace conference in Turkey, which is expected to change the direction of the ongoing peace efforts.  


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