ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday held detailed discussions on phone with his French Counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as ways to enhance cooperation to combat the spread of the disease.
Expressing deep concern over the loss of precious lives, Shah Mahmood Qureshi lauded the steps being taken by the French authorities to contain the virus, and thanked Jean-Yves Le Drian for looking after 13 Pakistanis affected in France. He also briefed the French foreign minister about the measures underway in Pakistan to contain the outbreak.
Qureshi informed that the number of affected people in Pakistan due to COVID-19 was increasing. COVID-19 had spread to almost all countries of the world, and the situation demanded a coordinated approach by the international community to combat its spread.
In view of the situation in Iran, Qureshi underscored the need for immediate lifting of sanctions and extending humanitarian assistance to enable Iranian authorities to save precious human lives. He also expressed deep concern over the continuing communication and movement lockdown in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir which was depriving 8 million Kashmiris of critical information and essential medical supplies needed to effectively contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foreign minister also expressed concern over the fragile state of financial systems of the developing world. To allow developing Countries to cope with the crisis, and mitigate the economic fallout, he underlined Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for debt restructuring, and sought France’s support and understanding, as an important member of the EU, the G-7, and the UN Security Council, on these issues.
The French foreign minister agreed with Qureshi’s assessment of the situation in Iran and the need to provide debt relief to developing Countries, and expressed his intention to raise the lifting of sanctions on Iran with the IMF, as well as providing debt relief to developing countries at the G-20.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested that in view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19, the two sides may held the next round of Bilateral Political Consultations, which was scheduled on 26 March 2020, via video conference.
The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian thanked his Pakistani Counterpart for his expression of solidarity and concurred with the need for enhanced cooperation to tide over the crisis.
The two Foreign Ministers agreed to stay in contact.