Trade, defence on mind, Gilani travels to Europe

Pakistan PM on Tuesday embarked on an official visit to Belgium and Spain.

Updated: Jun 01, 2010, 14:16 PM IST

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday embarked on an official visit to Belgium and Spain, saying Pakistan will seek the further strengthening of ties with the European Union in key areas like trade and defence.

Gilani told reporters at the Chaklala military airbase before his departure that he would hold talks with the European Union and Spanish leadership to promote economic, defence and cultural relations.

During high-level talks with the EU leadership, Pakistan will seek greater market access for its products. Replying to a question, he said nobody has doubts that Pakistan had shown resolve and made great contributions in the war against terrorism.

The world community has acknowledged Pakistan`s successes against terrorism, he said.

"They have realisation and we will make them further realise (about) our efforts," he added.

Pakistan will ask the EU`s leadership to enhance its role in building the capacity of the country`s law enforcement agencies, Gilani said.

Responding to a question about the attack by Israeli forces on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for the people of the Gaza Strip, Gilani said the whole world had condemned the incident.

"It was a barbaric act which should be condemned by all," he said, adding the UN and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference are deliberating the issue.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan are accompanying the Prime Minister for the four-day visit.

During his two-day visit to Spain, which is the current head of the EU, Gilani will discuss ways to increase trade and commercial ties.

This is Gilani`s first visit to Spain, where he will apprise its leadership about the challenges facing Pakistan`s government and measures being taken to counter extremism and terrorism.

On the second leg of his trip, Gilani will travel to Belgium.

Apart from meeting the country`s leadership, he will visit the European Parliament and the NATO headquarters, and address the North Atlantic Council.

Gilani will participate in the second Pakistan-EU summit on June 04.

The meeting is expected to review progress on various issues identified at last year`s summit, including the dedicated dialogue on trade.

The summit is a follow-up to the first EU-Pakistan summit held in Brussels in June last year. That summit was followed by the EU foreign ministers` adoption of an action plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan in October.