EU calls for closer trade, counter-terror ties with Pakistan
European Union foreign ministers on Tuesday called for closer trade, political and counter-terrorism ties with Pakistan in the wake of the country's February 18 elections, the dpa reported.
The elections "provided both Pakistan and the EU with new opportunities to improve and deepen the existing relationship," the foreign ministers of the bloc's 27 members said in a statement.
As a result, the EU would like to deepen ties with Pakistan, with particular emphasis on "economic development and trade, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, human rights, migration, education, inter-cultural issues and regional cooperation, as well as issues of wider international importance," the statement said.
The EU will also "look for ways to expand its support for education, including adult literacy and vocational training" and "approach the Pakistani authorities to explore jointly ways to support the strengthening of democratic institutions," it said.
Further, the union will continue to press for greater human rights, including women's rights, both as a means to boost development and as a way to fend off the radicalization of society.
And the bloc "calls upon the government of Pakistan to address the underlying causes of radicalization, through a coherent approach that includes democratization, socio-economic development, education and inter-cultural dialogue," the statement said.
The EU views Pakistan as a key player for regional stability and a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism and the attempt to stabilize the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
However, Pakistani anger at anti-Islamic statements and cartoons published in Europe over the last two years, and European doubts over the role played by President Pervez Musharraf, have made the relationship a stormy one at times.