Germany to fully stand by Pakistan: Westerwelle

ISLAMABAD (Online) - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has conveyed his appreciation to the German Govt for clarifying the negative comments attributed to Chancellor Angela Merkel about Pakistan during her recent visit to India. He was talking to Dr Guido Westerwelle, Deputy Chancellor / Foreign Minister of Federal Republic of Germany who alongwith his delegation called on the Prime Minister at the PMs House on Sunday. Dr Westerwelle termed Pakistan as the most important country in worlds fight against terrorism and a trusted friend of Germany by stating that Chancellor Angela Merkel held Pakistan in the highest esteem and her remarks about Pakistan during a press conference in India were distorted by the interested quarters. He assured the Prime Minister that Germany would fully stand by Pakistan and appreciates its unparallel sacrifices in human and economic terms in rooting out the menace of terrorism. The Prime Minister also conveyed the appreciations of his government and the people of Pakistan to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, political leadership and people of Germany for generously donating through telethons and personal appeal for the relief and rehabilitation of Pakistan flood affectees. He also expressed his governments gratitude for doubling of German economic development in Pakistan and called for Germanys consideration of financing projects to improve education, health, skilled development and income generation opportunities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He noted with thanks the Germanys important role in passage of Trade Concession Package for Pakistan by the EU and continued support for its passage through WTO. He also urged Germany to use its influence over countries like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Peru to drop their resistance for approval of the Package by WTO in its forthcoming meeting in Geneva towards the end of this month. While expressing his satisfaction on growing exports of Pakistan to Germany, the Prime Minister underlined the need for greater market access to Pakistan by important countries like Germany to create job opportunities particularly in the militancy-affected areas and for denying the extremists the opportunities to exploit the present economic difficulties of people of Pakistan. He noted that Germany was the 8th largest investor in Pakistan and Pakistan was the first country with which Germany had signed the Bilateral Investment Treaty in 1959 which was reviewed in 2009 during his visit to Berlin. He hoped that German Government would encourage its corporate sector to benefit from the new investment treaty and enhance their investment in power generation particularly in wind and solar sectors as well as in infrastructure development, agriculture, livestock and other lucrative fields. The Prime Minister acknowledged German Governments support for facilitating increased scholarships for Pakistani students in higher studies and hoped that the number of scholarships for Pakistan would be increased substantially in the coming years. He also called for relaxation of exports control on defence equipment by the German government particularly for the defence supplies required to enhance the capacity of Pakistans armed forces to fight the war against terror. The Prime Minister assured the German Vice Chancellor of his governments determination to continue its campaign against terrorism and extremism and in helping the Afghan Government for restoration of peace and stability in that country through reconciliation and reintegration process. He also stated that Pakistan was of the belief that its relations with India should not be made hostage to one terror incident and India should resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all the outstanding issues including Kashmir dispute with Pakistan peacefully and expeditiously. While referring to the forthcoming meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries in Bhutan and visit of Pakistans Foreign Minister to India, the Prime Minister hoped that during these parlays, India would respond positively and constructively to his governments sincere efforts for resumption of meaningful dialogue. The Prime Minister asked the German Vice Chancellor to convey his invitation to Chancellor Merkel for her official visit to Pakistan during this year, the time frame of which, he hoped, would be decided through consultation between the two Foreign Offices. German Vice Chancellor Dr Guido Westerwelle expressed his great appreciation to the Prime Minister for receiving him on a closed holiday and extending to him and his delegation very warm hospitality. Dr Westerwelle stated that the government and people of Germany were fully appreciative of the economic difficulties of Pakistan accentuated by the recent floods and impact of the world recession. He said that Germany alongwith UK had taken the initiative for providing greater market access to Pakistan in the EU and will continue to pursue the Pakistans case in this regard even in the future. He congratulated the Prime Minister for his consensus building and reconciliatory policies to take along all the political forces on every important issue and expressed the hope that his democratic government would successfully overcome all its difficulties and complete its tenure. Germany, he said, will continue to lend strong support to the democratic process in Pakistan and help Pakistan in every possible way to mitigate the economic problems faced by it. The Prime Minister noted with satisfaction that parliamentary exchanges between the two sides were on the increase and a Pakistan-German Parliamentary Friendship Group had been established in Pakistans Parliament. He proposed establishment of a similar Parliamentary Friendship Group in the German Parliament and boosting of people-to-people contacts between the two countries to create even better understanding and strengthening of friendship between the two sides.

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