UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during a meeting at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. (AFP)
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Mian Jahangir Iqbal, Principal Information Officer, presenting photo album to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan upon his departure at Noor Khan Air Base in Islamabad on Sunday. (Press Information Department)
Updated 07 January 2019
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UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed, PM Khan hold ‘wide-ranging talks’

  • Prime focus was on trade and economy with an agreement to expedite the processes involved
  • Analysts say both the countries enjoy a decades-old religious and cultural bond

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan held wide-ranging talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in Islamabad on Sunday, with the main focus on trade and economy.

The one-on-one meeting was part of Sheikh Mohammed’s one-day state visit to Pakistan after a 12-year gap.

“They resolved to take all necessary measures to deal with matters related to trade enhancement, and decided to form a task force to achieve this objective,” a statement released by the PM Office read.

Sheikh Mohammed was received by PM Khan at the Nur Khan airbase and accorded a ceremonial reception at the PM House, which was followed by a meeting and delegation-level talks. 

The statement said that the two “held wide-ranging talks focusing on all areas of bilateral relations”, adding that both the leaders expressed their determination to further strengthen the “historic and mutually beneficial relationship” between the two countries.

The two leaders underscored the importance of effectively pursuing the various initiatives taken for a strengthened and strategic bilateral relationship including working on a “long-term investment framework agreement”.

PM Khan also thanked Sheikh Mohammed for the “generous balance of payment support of $3 billion” adding that “this financial support shows the UAE’s continued commitment and friendship that has remained steadfast over the years”.

The premier welcomed the UAE’s interest in investing in Pakistan’s oil and gas, logistics, and construction sectors. The ongoing defense and security cooperation between both the countries also came under discussion which they agreed to enhance further.

The prime minister congratulated the leadership of the UAE for declaring 2019 as the year of tolerance. “This was the best way to pay a tribute to the vision and legacy of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” the statement said.

“The crown prince recognized the efforts and unparalleled sacrifices made by Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and extremism,” it said, adding that the two leaders instructed the relevant authorities to expedite the finalization of the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to clampdown on white-collar crimes such as money-laundering.

The crown prince was also briefed about the efforts that Pakistan was making to support and facilitate the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. He also appreciated the UAE’s role in hosting Afghan peace talks in Abu Dhabi.

“The two leaders agreed to work closely for the lasting peace and stability of Afghanistan” and expressed their resolve “to strive for progress, prosperity, and stability of both the UAE and Pakistan”.

“The crown prince’s visit to Pakistan shows that both the countries have turned a new page to further strengthen the decades-old bilateral relationship,” former ambassador Javed Hafeez told Arab News.

He said that PM Khan’s visits to the UAE have finally born “positive results” as the UAE has already extended $3 billion financial package to help Islamabad overcome its balance of payments crisis.

Professor Tahir Malik, a foreign affairs analyst, said that Pakistan’s relations with the UAE had soured during the previous PML-N government’s rule and “it is heartening to see the leadership of both the countries forging the bilateral relationship again”.

“The UAE has always extended financial and moral support to Pakistan during its testing times, and hopefully it will announce major investments in oil and other sectors soon,” he told Arab News.

“It is important to understand that relations of UAE and Pakistan are not limited to economic cooperation only …. we have a very strong religious and cultural bond as well which keeps growing with the passage of time,” he added.


Some North Korean officials back at liaison office: Seoul

Updated 40 min 7 sec ago
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Some North Korean officials back at liaison office: Seoul

  • North Korea has not clarified if all staff will officially return
  • The country pulled out its staff after collapse of nuclear summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump

SEOUL: South Korea said some North Korean officials returned to an inter-Korean liaison office on Monday, three days after the North abruptly withdrew its entire staff citing unspecified instructions from “higher-level authorities.”

It wasn’t immediately clear why North Korea sent some workers back to the office or whether it would restore a full staff. The North’s decision to withdraw its staff on Friday came a week after its vice foreign minister threatened to pull out of nuclear negotiations with the United States following the collapse of a nuclear summit last month between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said in a statement that four to five North Korean officials showed up for work Monday at the liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and told South Korean officials they came to work their usual shifts.

The ministry said the North continues to provide no clear explanation on why it withdrew staff from the office. The North reportedly sent about 10 workers each working day to the office since it opened last September as part of a slew of reconciliation steps between the rivals agreed to by Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The Koreas in past months have dismantled some of their front-line guard posts, halted military exercises across their border and vowed to resume inter-Korean economic projects when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects.

While Moon says inter-Korean reconciliation is crucial for achieving progress in nuclear negotiations, the breakdown of the Trump-Kim summit has created a difficult environment to push engagement with the North.

Washington and Pyongyang have struggled with the sequencing of North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and the removal of US-led sanctions against the North, and blamed each other for the collapse of the summit. North Korean state media have recently demanded that South Korea distance itself from the US and resume joint economic projects that have been held back by sanctions.