Pakistan and Tunisia: Miles to Go

Foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif calls on the president of the republic of Tunisia. The president, Beji Caid Essebsi received foreign affairs minister at the palace of Carthage.

The Foreign Minister thanked President Essebsi for providing an opportunity of meeting and for a very warm welcome to him and his delegation in Tunisia. He underlined the close and cordial ties between the two countries marked by commonality of faith, history and culture. He applauded the leadership role of President Essebsi in preservation and continuation of democratic values and economic development in Tunisia. The Foreign Minister also discussed with President Essebsi the substantive decisions taken during the 9th Session of the Bilateral Joint Commission. These included signing of various bilateral cooperation agreements, early holding of the Joint Business Council meeting, as well as meeting of the Joint Working Groups on Tourism and Energy. The Foreign Minister informed the President that he has invited his host and counterpart to undertake an early visit to Pakistan.

The Foreign Minister dilated upon the commonalities of both countries in facing terrorism and a volatile neighborhood. He briefed the President in detail regarding the Afghan situation and Indian atrocities in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

President Beji Caid Essebsi emphasized that relations between Tunisia and Pakistan were not only special for both the governments but also for people from both sides who were bound in fraternal ties, friendship and brotherhood. He stressed upon the importance of regular contacts and exchange of delegations including holding of the Joint Commission Meetings between both the countries to exchange views on the political developments of mutual interest, as well as expansion in the bilateral trade and investment.

9th Session of Pakistan-Tunisia Joint Commission

The 9th Session of Pakistan-Tunisia Joint Commission was held in Tunis on 14th of February 2018. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Co-chaired the Joint Commission with his Tunisian counterpart Mr. Khemaies Jhinaoui. This is the first time that Pakistan-Tunisia Joint Commission Meeting was held at the level of Foreign Ministers.

The Joint Commission Meeting enabled a comprehensive review of the entire spectrum of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Tunisia. A detailed discussion was held to strengthen and expand bilateral cooperation, including in the fields of security, counter-terrorism, defense, Justice, economic development, trade and investment, education, science and technology and agriculture.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif briefed his counterpart on the regional situation, including Afghanistan. He also briefed him on India and its grave violations of Human Rights in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Tunisian Foreign Minister shared views on the situation in Libya and the Middle East. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of resolving the Kashmir and Palestinian crises in accordance with the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions pertaining to the legal status of Palestine and Kashmir. Both sides expressed satisfaction at their commonality of views on major regional and international issues and resolved to continue their traditional collaboration at the UN and other multilateral fora, especially through support to each other’s candidatures.

The two sides had discussions on setting up channels of communication between the specialized agencies of both the countries in order to fight against terrorism and cooperate to enhance technical exposure in this field. They also expressed the common desire to seek ways and means to establish mutual cooperation in the field of defense and exchange technical and scientific information in the area of civil protection between the two countries.

The two sides resolved to enhance the current level of economic and trade interaction between the countries to reflect the cordiality of brotherly ties. Accordingly, a general agreement for establishing a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), was initialed. It was agreed to exchange multi-sectoral business delegations from both sides.

To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, it was decided to hold various cultural activities including art exhibitions, folk musical and cultural performances of Pakistan in Tunisia and Tunisian cultural activities in Pakistan.

The agreements in the fields of industrial and agriculture research, cooperation between small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Judicial cooperation and banking were signed at the conclusion of the Joint Commission in addition to the agreed upon Minutes of the talks and initialing of the general agreement on Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

Pakistan and Tunisia are bound by strong ties of friendship and Islamic brotherhood, manifested in common perceptions and cooperation on various international and regional issues of mutual concern. The two sides noted with deep satisfaction the continuation of the long standing close relationship, the mutual understanding and goodwill that have enabled the enhancement of bilateral cooperation in political, economic, security and cultural domains.

The Joint Commission provides a useful platform to review progress in various fields and identify opportunities for further cooperation. The two sides agreed to hold the 10th Session of the Joint Commission Meeting in Islamabad at mutually convenient dates in 2019.

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