Pakistan's new FM wants better relations with India

Pakistan's newly appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi vows to improve Pakistan's ties with countries, including India, Afghanistan, and the US, in his first press conference after being sworn in as a Cabinet member. (Photo by Pakistan Foreign Office)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Pakistan's new FM wants better relations with India

  • There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi, says Shah Mahmood Qureshi
  • Pakistan to improve relations with the US but on the basis of mutual respect, he says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday promised to improve his country’s relations with India, Afghanistan and the US through diplomatic engagement and negotiations.
Addressing a news conference at the Foreign Office in Islamabad hours after being sworn in as Pakistan’s foreign minister, Qureshi said that peace and stability in the region would be a cornerstone of his government’s foreign policy.
“We will review Pakistan’s foreign policy and set a new direction where necessary in order to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Speaking about war-ravaged Afghanistan, the foreign minister said he wanted to visit Kabul with a message of peace and love from Pakistan because stability in both countries is interlinked.
“We need to help each other ... I ask the people of Afghanistan to resolve our issues through bilateral talks and negotiations,” he said.
“I have heard that we have a bilateral agreement in place which has five tracks and we want to move forward with those.”
The foreign minister who is also the vice chairman of the ruling party — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — said that his government also wanted to resolve all outstanding issues, including that of Kashmir, through dialogue with India.
“We both — Pakistan and India — are nuclear powers and cannot afford any adventurism,” he said. “We have to engage; we have to accept the realities and resolve all issues amicably.”
“We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage,” he said.
The foreign minister said that there was a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi as this was the only wise approach for moving ahead.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan and expressed his desire for dialogue, Qureshi said.
As an answer to one question, the foreign minister said that he was aware of concerns and priorities of the US administration and would try to bridge the trust deficit on both sides.
“We want to improve bilateral relations with America, but on the basis of respect,” he said.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that it was a game-changer and a long-term project and that the PTI government would continue working with the Chinese leadership on it.
“We would like to see how to enter the phase of socio-economic development as there has been a lot of emphasis only on infrastructure development in the past,” he added.
Qureshi emphasized that the government would try its best to improve the quality of life for the common man through economic diplomacy and international engagement.
“Socio-economic development will remain one of the top priorities of our government,” he said.
The foreign minister said that he would try to build a national consensus through a bipartisan approach regarding the country’s foreign policy. “We will take the opposition parties on board too … I will be representing Pakistan in an upcoming important meeting at the UN,” he added.
The foreign minister also urged Pakistani missions abroad to remember that they are “not rulers. You are meant to serve. The intent with which Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation and our attitudes will have to change towards our people.”
“A good nature and courtesy never make you lose anything. You gain friends. Treat our overseas Pakistanis with respect. This is now the duty of all our embassies abroad,” he added.


French envoy returns to Italy as friendship rekindles

Updated 17 min 38 sec ago
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French envoy returns to Italy as friendship rekindles

  • Ties between the traditionally close allies have grown increasingly tense since mid-2018, with Italy’s Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini firing verbal pot-shots at Macron and his government
  • The recall came after di Maio met members of France’s “yellow vest” movement, which has mounted sometimes violent protests against Macron’s liberal economic reform program.

PARIS: France’s ambassador to Italy returned to Rome on Friday, eight days after his recall by President Emmanuel Macron, as the European neighbors defused their worst diplomatic crisis since World War Two.
A senior French diplomat described the recall as “electro-shock therapy” necessary to end to “repeated, baseless” attacks by Italian political leaders against France.
Some commentators saw the recall as over-reaction, but French officials said it had persuaded Italian politicians to reaffirm publicly their friendship with Paris and halt their verbal onslaught — at least for now.
“We blew the whistle loud enough to make everybody stop,” the diplomat said.
The ambassador was received on his return by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, said a source at Macron’s office. He also delivered a letter from Macron inviting Mattarella to France for a state visit in the coming months.
Ties between the traditionally close allies have grown increasingly tense since mid-2018, with Italy’s Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini firing verbal pot-shots at Macron and his government, mostly over migration.
The recall came after di Maio met members of France’s “yellow vest” movement, which has mounted sometimes violent protests against Macron’s liberal economic reform program.
Salvini initially wanted to meet Macron directly but later wrote what French diplomats described as a “polite” letter to his counterpart, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, inviting him to Italy, French officials said.
Italy’s president also spoke with Macron by telephone “and they expressed the extent to which (their) ... friendship ... was important and how the two countries needed one another,” French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau told private radio station RTL.
But French diplomats do not rule out tensions resurfacing ahead of European elections in May, with Macron and Salvini framing the campaign as a clash between pro-European “progressives” and Euroskeptic nationalists.
Migration policy and French initiatives to bring peace to Libya, a former Italian colony, without consulting Rome have both been sources of tension in recent months.
A split in the Italian coalition government over the fate of an under-construction Alpine rail tunnel linking France and Italy, could also test relations going forward.
There was no immediate comment on the French ambassador’s return from the Italian government.