BIRGU - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday along with other world leaders attended two retreat sessions on the second day of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that focused on violent extremism, sustainable development goals and migration.

The sessions held at the 14th-century-old Saint Angelo Fort in Malta’s historic city of Birgu, also known as Vittoriosa, gathered the world leaders to find out working solutions to the issues impacting the Commonwealth countries.

The sessions were attended by heads of governments, including Malta’s Joseph Muscat, Britain’s David Cameron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, French President Francois Hollande, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and other representatives from 53 member states. The retreat sessions provided the CHOGM leaders with an opportunity to mingle with each other and discuss burning issues.

Besides exchange of pleasantries, the heads of government did not miss the opportunity to share with each other their opinions on current global security challenges as well as domestic, regional and international policy responses to counter extremism.

PM Nawaz Sharif, in an informal interaction with other heads of government, conveyed Pakistan’s strong condemnation of terrorist activities whether committed by individuals or groups or states, resulting in violence or threat of violence.

He apprised the other leaders that Pakistan was cooperating with international community to deal with militancy and fully implementing the UN Security Council sanctions against terrorism.

He also expressed support to international efforts to counter the threats posed by ISIL and deal with the phenomenon of foreign terrorists.

The CHOGM leaders shared views on promoting global partnership between the Commonwealth and other like-minded organisations pursuing similar agendas and urged the states to invest in preventive measures to protect their citizens from extremism. During the second retreat session held with the agenda of implementation of SDGs and migration, the prime minister informed the world leaders that Pakistan had been facing the issue of migrants and refugees for over 35 years.

He stressed the Commonwealth to advocate long-term view of migration with more opportunities for regular and legal migration. Nawaz Sharif also exchanged views on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with particular attention to the steps that might be taken by the Commonwealth governments to accelerate implementation.

Nawaz Sharif also met his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.

The two leaders who met during the retreat session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, expressed satisfaction over the existing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of trade, investment and defence. Nawaz said Pakistan values its relations with Australia, adding that the present state of relations are cordial based on mutual trust.

The UK will host the next Commonwealth summit in spring 2018," a Downing Street spokeswoman said, on the second day of the three-day 2015 summit in Malta. The 2019 CHOGM is due to be held in Malaysia.

CW LEADERS TO FINALISE

CLIMATE DEAL

The Commonwealth was finalising fresh agreements on climate change and turning its focus to tackling radicalisation and corruption on Saturday as leaders retreated to a medieval Maltese fortress for intimate talks.

Prime ministers and presidents from the 53-country organisation were shaping up their plans ahead of next week's world climate change summit in Paris, on the second day of the biennial Commonwealth meeting. Canada pledged nearly two billion US dollars over five years to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, doubling its previous commitment.

"Canada is back and ready to play its part in combatting climate change, and this includes helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world adapt," said new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Commonwealth was working on finalising a Climate Finance Access Hub, a network aimed at smaller island states that want to get access to funds to mitigate against the effects of climate change, with Australia already announcing it would be putting money in.

The organisation has also come up with a debt swap for climate change action initiative, where developing countries could see their debt written down in return for undertaking projects on improving the environment. "Thirty-one of our 53 members are small states and 25 are small island developing states, which are most vulnerable to climate change," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.