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China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal agree to jointly fight COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2020)

China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal have agreed to work together to strengthen cooperation and boost economic recovery during their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement was reached during a video conference on Monday night between Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh and Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.

During the conference, the ministers discussed ways to boost cooperation in their countries’ fight against coronavirus and ways to boost economic recovery in light of the pandemic, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. 

Wang Yi said that as a neighbor and partner, China stands ready to continue to work with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal to overcome difficulties, safeguard people’s health, promote the resumption of work and production and enhance people’s livelihood until the pandemic is over. 

The ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal said the three sides are willing to deepen cooperation with China to fight COVID-19, ensure the flow of trade and transport corridors, facilitate people-to-people and trade connection, build a “silk road of health” and community of a shared future for humanity.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the foreign ministers also stressed the importance of promoting the resumption of key cooperation projects and expanding new areas of digital cooperation.

More efforts are needed to promote the joint efforts of the Belt and Road and explore ways to synergize the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, the foreign ministers said.

Wang Yi said: “We should support the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.”

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No relief yet for Pakistan as FATF keeps it on global grey list

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday announced it would keep Pakistan on the grey list until at least February next year.

Speaking at a virtual press conference in Paris on Friday the anti-money laundering/terror financing watchdog’s president Marcus Pleyer said there were still conditions Pakistan needs to comply with before they can be removed from the grey list. 

“Pakistan must comply with the remaining six items, then the FATF will send its onsite team to verify progress on the ground. After completion of this process, the FATF will consider Pakistan to be excluded from the list of jurisdictions with increased risk of terror financing that is called the grey list.”

Pleyer said although Pakistan has made progress in terms of carrying out reforms and implemented measures such as imposing sanctions against those financing terrorism, more still needed to be done. 

The FATF plenary removed Iceland and Magnolia from the grey list. North Korea and Iran will remain on the blacklist.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said on Twitter: “FATF acknowledges that any blacklisting is off the table now. Pak has achieved impressive progress on its FATF action plan. 21 out of 27 action items now stand cleared. Remaining 6 rated as partially complete. Within a year, we progressed from 5/27 to 21/27 completed items.”

According to a statement issued by FATF Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to progress in a number of areas including taking action to identify and sanction illegal MVTS, implementing cross-border currency and controls, improving international cooperation in terrorist financing cases and applying sanctions where necessary, among others.

The statement noted that Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies.

One area FATF said Pakistan needs to work on is to demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all 1,267 and 1,373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf.

However, the FATF said it “takes note of the significant progress made on a number of action plan items. To date, Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.”

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Pakistan parliament to host trade and investment forum for Afghans

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Pakistan’s National Assembly will host a Pakistan-Afghanistan trade and economic forum next week to enhance bilateral relations and find ways to overcome transit and trade challenges. 

The two-day seminar in Islamabad will include a 17-member Afghan parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) and representatives from Afghanistan’s trade and investment community. 

Pakistan’s The News reported delegates attending from Pakistan will include political leaders, academics, investors, and traders.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the opening ceremony of the conference on October 26 and a video message from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be telecast during the event.

The seminar is being viewed as a positive sign of change and a way to overcome issues faced by traders and investors in both countries and will also open new avenues of political and parliamentary cooperation and coordination between the two countries. 

 

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Joint economic commission planned between Afghanistan and Iran

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(Last Updated On: October 11, 2020)

Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said Sunday he held a “valuable” virtual meeting with Iran’s Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian on a number of issues including that of permanent transmission of electricity to Afghanistan. 

Atmar said they also discussed holding a joint economic commission, opening the Khaf-Herat railway line, setting preferential tariffs on importing electricity, custom tariffs, and expanding trade. 

“We are committed to strengthening relations and expanding cooperation with our friendly and brotherly country Iran,” Atmar tweeted.

Iran’s Mehr news agency said the Iranian energy minister emphasized his country’s support for cooperation with Afghanistan, especially in the field of energy production and transmission.

Last month, a delegation from the Iranian ministry of energy traveled to Afghanistan to strengthen relations and discuss joint ventures in the electricity sector.

Afghanistan currently imports electricity from neighboring Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

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