Canada vows to continue working with Pakistan, Afghanistan

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Islamabad, Jan 25 (UNI) Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister Leonard J Edwards has pledged to continue working with both Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen security along their troubled border.

''Canada, which has more than 2500 troops in Afghanistan, attached great importance to on-going cooperation with Pakistan and will continue to work with both Pakistan and Afghanistan to strengthen security along the border," he said while talking to Pakistani foreign minister Inam-ul-Haq in Islamabad.

Foreign office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said here today that during the meeting, Pakistan-Canada bilateral relations, recent developments in Pakistan, and regional issues of common interest were discussed.

Both sides noted the recent increase in bilateral trade and commercial ties and agreed to further reinforce bilateral economic cooperation through the agreed institutional mechanisms, Sadiq added.

On the bilateral plane, Foreign Minister Inamul Haque underscored Pakistan's commitment to building a broad-based and long-term relationship with Canada marked by growing cooperation in the political, economic, military and cultural fields as well as expanded business and people-to-people contacts.

Edwards expressed sympathies over the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Noting the importance of free and fair elections, the Deputy Foreign Minister said Canada would be participating in the international observer mission for election monitoring.

Mr Haque underlined Pakistan's resolve to continue on the democratic path and to defeat terrorism.

He noted the steps taken for a thorough investigation of the assassination of the former Prime Minister and the government's commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He also reaffirmed the government's commitment to a free media and to holding free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

In the regional context, the Foreign Minister underscored Pakistan's vital stake in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

He stated that Pakistan would continue to work with the international partners to promote the process of stabilisation in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister informed the Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister of the developments in the Composite Dialogue with India.

He underlined Pakistan's hope that along with progress in confidence-building measures, forward movement will be made towards resolution of outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

UNI XC SLD AS1413

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