Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, terming Pakistan’s relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as “special”, said the Emirati leadership steadfastly stood by Pakistan in its times of need. In a meeting with UAE’s ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign minister said Pakistan always accorded paramount importance to its long-standing fraternal ties with the UAE. Qureshi said warm sentiments between the two leaderships and strong people-to-people linkages were rooted in shared faith, values and culture. He paid rich tribute to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who he said contributed immensely towards strengthening bilateral ties. Recalling his successful visit to the UAE in December last year, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the importance of frequent high-level visits from both sides, which served to continually provide impetus towards deepening and diversifying bilateral relations. He looked forward to enhanced high-level engagements with the UAE, as soon as the global health situation improved. The Foreign Minister appreciated the UAE’s support for Pakistan’s Expo pavilion to be held in 2021, covering an approximate area of 3,500 sq. meters. The pavilion will exhibit Pakistan’s culture, investment opportunities and tourism potential in the largest exhibition ever staged in the Arab world, with 190 countries and 25 million people projected to participate. The UAE Ambassador hailed the strong UAE-Pakistan relations and pledged to work towards further strengthening and diversifying them in all sectors for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples. He acknowledged the positive contribution made by Pakistani diaspora towards the progress and development of the UAE. Ambassador Al Zaabi reaffirmed the UAE’s desire to develop bilateral ties with Pakistan on the basis of mutual respect, understanding, and common interests. The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, (UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme), valuable support was provided to Pakistan in the areas of education, health, energy and infrastructure development. The UAE is home to more than 1.6 million Pakistanis – the second largest Pakistani expatriates’ community abroad. Meanwhile, Qureshi hosted a working luncheon for the EU ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the second such luncheon hosted by the Foreign Minister which provided an opportunity to both sides to share their perspectives and plans to carry forward the relationship. The foreign minister welcomed the ambassadors and stated that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with the European Union, which are based on shared values and common objectives of peace, prosperity and development. The Pakistan-EU relationship has strengthened steadily over the years and is pursued through sound institutional mechanisms and dialogue processes. The two sides elevated their relationship by signing the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) in June 2019. SEP is a forward-looking and comprehensive framework of cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interest. The foreign minister highlighted that the ‘smart’ lockdown strategy of the government to save lives and secure livelihoods has turned out to be successful and has also led to an increase in economic activity in the country including exports. He stressed that the global community must come together to combat the virus and should realize that nobody is safe till everyone is safe. Qureshi expressed satisfaction at the trade and investment relations between Pakistan and the European Union. He also appreciated the continuation of GSP Plus status to Pakistan. The foreign minister highlighted the positive outlook of Pakistan’s economy. He added that the growing economic trajectory coupled with extensive natural resources offered huge opportunities for enhanced trade, investment, and tourism. The foreign minister stressed the importance of economic and cultural diplomacy and called for deeper engagement between Pakistan and the European Union in these spheres. The foreign minister also briefed the EU ambassadors on regional situation. He highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) and underscored the importance of peaceful solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant UN resolutions. He dilated upon Pakistan’s positive contributions to the Afghan peace process and facilitative role in advancing the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, region and beyond.