ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday stressed on the need for Pakistan and Hungary to forge a stronger economic relationship, besides friendly bilateral ties.
The prime minister expressed these views during a meeting with Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, who called on him in the capital.
During his meeting with the foreign dignitary, the premier stressed the need for expanding beneficial cooperation between the countries in trade, energy, water resource management, food and agriculture, science and technology, and higher education.
He also impressed upon the Hungarian business community to take advantage of the business friendly climate of Pakistan and bring further investment into the country.
Views were exchanged on the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The prime minister appreciated the Hungarian government’s efforts in vaccinating its population.
He underlined that Pakistan’s efforts have been aimed at ensuring saving people from dying from the virus, and at the same time preventing them from dying from hunger, by stimulating the economy.
On Afghanistan, the prime minister reiterated his conviction that there was no military solution to the conflict and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward.
He underscored the importance of responsible withdrawal and steady progress by the Afghan parties towards a political solution.
The prime minister added that peace and stability in Afghanistan would yield other significant dividends including enhanced trade and regional connectivity.
Foreign Minister Szijjártó thanked the prime minister for receiving him and conveyed greetings from the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
He also briefed the prime minister on his government’s foreign policy and economic priorities.
Foreign Minister Szijjártó highlighted that he was accompanied by a high-level business delegation comprising 17 leading businessmen to explore business opportunities in Pakistan, which was a manifestation of growing economic ties with the country.
The prime minister renewed his invitation to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to undertake a visit to Pakistan, while Foreign Minister Szijjártó extended an invitation to the prime minister to visit Hungary.
Qureshi meets Hungarian counterpart
Prior to the visit with the prime minister, Foreign Minister Szijjártó met his Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, with the two holding a meeting on a wide range of issues.
According to a statement by the Foreign Office, the foreign ministers “reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and explored ways to deepen existing cooperation across diverse areas such as trade, economic, agriculture research, food industry, aviation, energy, water resource management, science & technology, and higher education”.
It was agreed to work together to forge a strong bilateral economic partnership.
Foreign Minister Qureshi apprised Foreign Minister Szijjártó of Pakistan’s steadfast support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and positive contributions to the Afghan peace process.
Qureshi underlined the importance of reduction in violence leading to ceasefire, the Foreign Office said, adding that he also underlined the imperative of responsible withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and continued engagement of the international community to help Afghanistan’s reconstruction and economic development.
“The foreign minister stressed that the Afghan stakeholders must seize this historic opportunity and engage constructively to work out an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution, through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process,” read the statement.
Qureshi, in his conversation with his Hungarian counterpart, also highlighted the serious human rights situation in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the recent reaffirmation of ceasefire understanding on the Line of Control (LoC) was in line with Pakistan’s consistent position on maintaining regional peace and security.
According to the Foreign Office, the foreign minister stressed that “the onus was on India to create an enabling environment for dialogue”. He also mentioned that as a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID-19, Pakistan had offered to provide relief support to India.
Signing of business agreements
Earlier, the two foreign ministers jointly addressed the Pakistan-Hungary Economic Diplomacy event and encouraged business community of both countries to enhance mutual collaboration.
Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s economic security paradigm and underlined the shifting focus from geo-politics to geo-economics. He invited Hungarian companies to take advantage of the business friendly environment in Pakistan.
The two foreign ministers witnessed signing of business agreements between Pakistani and Hungarian companies in the fields of dairy, pharmaceuticals and cyber security.
According to the Foreign Office, the Hungarian government “has announced an exclusive credit-line of $84 million for Hungarian companies to do business with Pakistan”.
“A loan facility of $50 million for projects in fisheries and food processing was announced by the Hungarian government. The two sides will also work towards establishing direct air links,” read the statement.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation within the Framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme 2020-22 was also signed between the two sides, under which the Hungarian government will provide 200 scholarships annually to Pakistani students to study in Hungary.