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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L) and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell (R) making a joint statement in Brussels, Belgium. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The European Union (EU) has welcomed progress made by Pakistan to implement action plans of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and lauded adoption of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill by parliament that later became an Act with the presidential approval.

A joint communique issued on Wednesday at the conclusion of sixth round of the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue said the EU also welcomed ongoing efforts to implement the remaining FATF action plans.

The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell in Brussels on Tuesday.

The two sides reviewed ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the EU based on the Strategic Engagement Plan, said the joint communique shared by the Foreign Office here.

They agreed to further enhance EU-Pakistan mutual engagement, particularly on security and regional cooperation.

Both sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the new EU-Pakistan security dialogue with sub-groups on non-proliferation and disarmament and counter-terrorism in 2022.

Mr Borrell and Mr Qureshi reaffirmed the resolve to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, focusing on freedom of religion and belief, interfaith harmony, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence and rights of minorities.

Foreign Minister Qureshi raised concern at the rising trends of Islamophobic acts, xenophobia and religious intolerance in the world and the need for common resolve to counter them.

Both sides expressed strong political commitment towards the GSP+ and the implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights and protection of environment and good governance that are linked to it.

Mr Borrell raised concern on misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.

He hoped that the Anti-Torture Bill and other human rights-related legislation that were before the parliament would be adopted soon.

Mr Borrell informed the foreign minister about a coming follow-up visit of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan.

He welcomed Pakistan’s pronouncement, prior to the Glasgow conference, about its contribution to the common climate objectives.

The high representative and the foreign minister had an extensive exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan. They agreed on the importance of maintaining sustained engagement with Afghanistan to promote stability and counter drug trade and threat of terrorism.

Both sides acknowledged Afghanistan’s liquidity challenges strain the legitimate banking services. They agreed on the need for continuing urgent and unhindered humanitarian assistance and basic social services support to the Afghan people.

Both sides supported dialogue among the Afghan parties for achieving national reconciliation.

Mr Borrell thanked Pakistan for its support in evacuation of nationals of EU member countries and safe passage of people from Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s support for the EU’s inclusion in the regional political consultation mechanism on Afghanistan.

He reiterated Pakistan’s concern about human rights violations by India in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and efforts to change demography of the disputed territory in violation of UNSC resolutions.

Mr Borrell welcomed as an important step in the interest of regional peace and stability the February 2021 agreement between India and Pakistan for observance of ceasefire at the Line of Control and to engage through established mechanisms.

Mr Qureshi met North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and exchanged views on the regional situation, including the latest developments in Afghanistan.

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