Pak-US Close Engagement Significant for Stability in South Asia: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

MUNICH, Germany: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that close engagement between Pakistan and the United States has historically proved to be a factor for stability in South Asia, the Dispatch News Desk (DND) News Agency reported.

Qureshi made these remarks when he met a bipartisan group of US lawmakers led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Senator Lindsey Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Graham was joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat), Senator Chris Coons (Democrat), Senator Rick Scott (Republican), Senator John Barrasso (Republican), Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat). Meanwhile from the US House of Representatives Congressmen Mike Gallagher (Republican), Jim Banks (Republican), Mac Thornberry (Republican), Mike Turner (Republican), Tom Malinowski (Democrat), Jim Langevin (Democrat), Elise Stefanik (Republican), Elissa Slotkin (Democrat), Dan Crenshaw (Republican) and Joe Wilson (Republican) attended the meeting.

The former Senators Joe Lieberman and Saxby Chambliss also joined the US lawmakers.

Talking to US lawmakers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed the importance of a broad-based and structured relationship for promoting the two countries’ shared interests. He noted that Pakistan looked forward to enhancing cooperation with the United States in trade, energy and business sectors.

The foreign minister said that his government is pursuing an ambitious domestic agenda of reform and people-centric development, which is contingent on peace and stability in Pakistan’s neighborhood. Above all, Pakistan wants to see peace return to Afghanistan.

The foreign minister recalled that Pakistan has always held that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. He said that Pakistan has therefore welcomed the United States’ renewed emphasis on achieving a peaceful, political settlement in Afghanistan, and was extending its fullest support to the efforts of US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad to that end.

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed recent progress in the Afghan peace process but stressed that a final settlement would remain elusive without the ownership of all Afghan parties as well as the broader region.

Senator Graham appreciated Pakistan’s support for peace in Afghanistan, noting that the progress made in last month’s Doha talks would not have been possible without Pakistan’s assistance.

Recalling his recent visit to Pakistan, the Senator said that he has been impressed by the successes Pakistan has achieved in its fight against terrorism. He echoed the foreign minister’s desire for a strategic and comprehensive partnership between Pakistan and the US and stressed upon establishing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.