Pakistan wants broad-based partnership with France: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Pakistan seeks to have a broad-based and multifaceted partnership with France for further strengthening the existing bilateral relations and to explore, for mutual benefit, new opportunities for enhancing trade and deepening people to people contacts.

During his meeting with French President Mr. Francois Hollande Tuesday at Elysee Palace, the President said that Pakistan regards France as an important economic and development partner of Pakistan, both bilaterally and in the context of the European Union, and wanted to further strengthen its equation with France.

The President said that the existing level of bilateral relations and mutual cooperation provided solid basis for transforming our relationship into a comprehensive strategic partnership encompassing the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations in political, security, trade, culture and science and education fields for our mutual benefit.

The President said that the two countries need to work together for further strengthening their economic relations and reiterated call for greater trade and market access facilitation.

The President said that Pakistan offered great opportunities to the foreign investors by putting in place the most friendly investment regime. He said that the presence of around 40 French companies in Pakistan engaged in profitable business ventures and the facilitation offered by the government provided grounds for greater French investment in the country.

The President offered French entrepreneurs to enter into joint ventures in Pakistan in diverse areas of energy, agriculture, textiles, agro-based industry, infrastructure and communication to mutual advantage. The President also emphasized the need to further promote interaction between the business communities of the two countries.

On this occasion, the President also reiterated his call for continued assistance in securing for Pakistan greater market access in the European Union. He said that Pakistan seeks greater trade opportunities for strengthening its war-ravaged and calamities stricken economy. The President said that socio-economic uplift of the people of the militancy infected areas was essential to defeat the militants who exploited poverty and joblessness to attract recruits.

The President said that Pakistan welcomes EU’s decision to revise the GSP Scheme recommending an upward revision of the import vulnerability criterion. He said Pakistan looked forward to the GSP + status. He said that the EU was the single largest trading partner of Pakistan and increased trade with it would help enhance Pakistan’s capability to address terrorism in line with Government’s strategy of Development, Dialogue and Deterrence.

He said that Pakistan was committed to undertake all the measures that promised our young generations a better future and peace. In this context, the President reiterated Pakistan’s abiding interest in peace and stability of Afghanistan and of the region. He said that Pakistan would continue to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven reconciliation and peace process and was willing to provide every possible support to it. He said that the actions taken recently by Pakistan in response to requests from the Afghan government proved Pakistan’s sincerity of purpose.

The two sides were of the view that there was an urgent need to address the issue of drug trafficking with greater international cooperation. President Zardari highlighted that illicit drug trade posed a serious challenge to the foundations of the regional countries and to the peace of the region.

He said that drug mafias have a nexus with terrorist organizations and crime syndicates and are linked with arms smuggling, human trafficking and money-laundering. He emphasized upon the need for greater focus of the international community to address the issue of drug trafficking on urgent basis.

French President Francois Hollande appreciated the efforts of the President for promoting the cause of education. He said that the visit of the President to attend high-level event for promotion of girls’ education reflected the commitment of the leadership to the cause.

He said that France would continue to provide every possible assistance to the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to have greater trade opportunities and to enhance its capacity to fight militancy. He also assured the President continued assistance in the education sector