Pakistan, Iraq vow to boost relations

BAGHDAD (Agencies): Pakistan and Iraq have resolved to take bilateral ties “to new heights and expand cooperation in diverse areas”, said Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari after his meeting with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid on Monday. “Today, I called on HE Dr Abdul Latif Jamal, president of Iraq. Resolved to take Pakistan and Iraq relations to new heights and expand cooperation in diverse areas, including sharing expertise on water, agriculture and reinforcing defence cooperation and bilateral trade”, tweeted Bilawal, who arrived in Baghdad earlier today on a three-day visit.
Separately, Radio Pakistan reported both dignitaries “appreciated the trajectory of bilateral relations and agreed to expand mutually beneficial cooperation”. Bilawal also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on the first day of his visit and said after the meeting that they “discussed a broad range of issues, including enhancing bilateral trade, convening of joint ministerial commission, rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure, connectivity, zaireen (pilgrims) and enhancing people-to-people and business contacts”. Earlier, Radio Pakistan reported that the two countries had agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties. The “understanding” between the two countries was reached during a meeting between Bilawal and his Iraqi counterpart, Dr Fuad Hussein, the report said. The state broadcaster quoted Bilawal as saying that “Pakistan maintains deep fraternal relations with Iraq”.
“During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on different aspects of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Iraq,” the report added. In a tweet, Bilawal said he was delighted to meet Hussein and that he had a “wide-ranging discussion on all issues”. “I’m grateful to the government of Iraq for its support in opening of Pakistan consulate in Najaf,” he added. The minister highlighted both sides signed important memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and resolved to unlock “huge potential in dynamic bilateral cooperation”. Reiterating the hope to strengthen bilateral ties in a joint press conference with Hussein, Bilawal said both countries “enjoyed decades-old ties and they always supported each other in the hour of need”.
The Foreign Office (FO), meanwhile, said the two agreements were related to enhancing cultural cooperation, and visa abolition on diplomatic and official passports. Bilawal is undertaking his maiden visit to Iraq at the invitation of Hussein, who is also the Iraqi deputy prime minister. Upon arriving in Baghdad, he was received by Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Hussein Bahral Uloom, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iraq Ahmed Amjad Ali and other officials from the Pakistani embassy.
The FO shared photos of Bilawal arriving in Baghdad, being greeted by Iraqi officials and meeting with Bahral Uloom and Hussein. Radio Pakistan also shared videos showing glimpses of Bilawal’s arrival and his interactions with Iraqi officials. The minister’s trip to Iraq is the latter leg of his journey, after having attended a royal wedding in Jordan earlier at the invitation of the Jordanian royal family. In an official statement released last week, the FO had said that the foreign minister would meet with the Iraqi leadership. According to the FO, “important agreements” would be signed during the visit.