''Friends of Pakistan'' to help in need in major sectors

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Islamabad, Nov 18 (UNI) Acknowledging that Pakistan is facing ''formidable challenges and needs well-coordinated international cooperation,'' the Friends of Pakistan forum has agreed on a broad framework for cooperation with the country in four major sectors.

''A work plan for the group has been adopted, envisaging cooperation in the fields of development, security, energy and institution-building,'' Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said here today after the meeting of top officials of the countries constituting 'Friends of Democratic Pakistan' held in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The meeting, co-chaired by Pakistan's Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Assistant Under-Secretary of the UAE Foreign Ministry Dr Tariq Ahmad Al-Haidan, was attended by representatives from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, European Union, European Commission and United Nations.

This was the second meeting of the forum, set up in New York in September, to bring together countries committed to helping Pakistan to meet its economic, social and security challenges.

The meeting was held two days after the International Monetary Fund announced that it had reached an initial agreement with Pakistan for a 7.6 billion dollar loan to bail the country out of a serious balance of payments crisis.

Although the meeting was more of a consultative nature, the Foreign Ministry described it as ''highly successful''. ''There is now the concrete document on which we can work,'' the spokesman said, referring to the agreed framework for cooperation.

Proposals for setting up a fund to support Pakistan's ailing economy were also discussed. ''Suggestions were made about a possible Trust Fund, the details of which need to be discussed further,'' the spokesman said.

A ministerial-level meeting of the forum would be held in Islamabad in February next year. Prior to this meeting, an experts-level meeting in each of the four agreed sectors of cooperation would be held from January 13 to 16.

Pakistan would submit at the experts' meeting its requirements in terms of financial resources, expertise and technology.

UNI XC SKB PK HT1448

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