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President of Pakistan opens D-8 Summit today

ISLAMABAD: Muslim leaders will meet on Thursday as Pakistan hosts a rare summit designed to increase trade and investment.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, key players in the Middle East crisis, are scheduled to be among those attending the eighth Developing Eight (D-8) summit.

The D8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with an estimated total population of one billion.Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is also due to attend. Bangladesh and Malaysia will be represented at adviser- and ministerial- level respectively.

The summit will mark the first visit by an Egyptian president to Pakistan in four decades and by the first by a Nigerian leader for 28 years.

The summit goal is to increase the trade between member countries from $130 billion to $507 billion by 2018. Thousands of extra police and paramilitaries will deploy and construction work has been suspended around the diplomatic enclave to provide “God willing, foolproof security”, Islamabad police chief Bani Amin told AFP.

Pakistan wants the summit to boost trade and investment, strengthen its international standing and help “remove misconceptions (about Pakistan) created in a section of international media”, a government statement said.

Pakistan will also likely press Iran over a multi-billion dollar deal to import Iranian gas despite US pressure to abandon the project because of the sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Pakistan to make diplomatic headway and overcome its reputation as a hub of global terrorism.

APP adds: The leaders also include Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Bangladeshi Adviser to Prime Minister for International Affairs Professor Gowher Rizvi.

The event on the theme ‘Democratic partnership for peace and prosperity’ will be opened by the Nigerian President, being the outgoing chairman of the D-8. President Asif Ali Zardari will deliver the welcome address after assuming the chairmanship. Nigeria on Wednesday handed over the chairmanship to Pakistan in the meeting of D-8 Council of Ministers held here.

The leaders will also address the event that aims at enhancing relations in multiple areas, particularly trade.

The session will adopt a report of the 15th Session of the Council and the D-8 Charter.An Islamabad Declaration will be issued on the conclusion of the D-8 Summit.The summit is significant in realising the collective issues of D-8 member states and finding their solutions for a sustainable future of one billion people.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived here on Wednesday to participate in the summit. Minister for Textiles Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the Minister-in-Waiting, received the Iranian president as he alighted from his special aircraft. Children clad in the national dress presented bouquets to the visiting dignitary.

A contingent of three services presented him a guard of honour, as national anthems of the two countries were played.

Earlier, President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan arrived here to participate in the summit.The Nigerian president was received by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Mian Manzoor Wattoo at the Nur Khan Airbase here.

On arrival, the Nigerian president was presented guard of honour by a contingent of armed forces. National anthems of the two countries were played.President Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will discuss the evolving situation in the Middle East and the region, and bilateral matters during their meetings with the D-8 leaders. The talks encompassing all spheres will span three days from Nov 21 to 23, during the visit of the D-8 leaders.

The issue of Israeli attack on Gaza was likely to be the hot issue during the talks. Pakistan has strongly condemned the Israeli air attacks in Gaza that targeted not only the Hamas leadership, but also innocent civilians.

President Mohammad Morsi of Egypt had earlier telephoned Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to discuss with him the situation arising out of the Israeli bombardment.President Zardari will also meet the Malaysian Deputy prime minister today (Thursday). It will be followed by a meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He will also host a dinner in honour of the Iranian president.

The president will discuss bilateral matters with the Egyptian president on Nov 23 following his address to the joint sitting of parliament. Pakistan and Egypt will also hold delegation-level talks, which will culminate in signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding. The president will also host a luncheon in honour of the Egyptian president.

President Morsi will hold a one-on-one meeting with President Zardari, followed by delegation-level talks. President Asif Ali Zardari will host a luncheon in honour of the visiting heads of delegations at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Thursday during the D-8 Summit. Prime Minister Raja will also join the delegates.

The delegation-level talks will focus on improving the position of the member states in the world economy, diversification and creation of new opportunities in trade relations.

The D-8 countries comprise around 15 percent of the world’s population, having a dynamic labour force, rich mineral, energy and agricultural resources, promising tourism capacities. However, the contribution of the member countries in the global trade remains below the potential.

Courtesy: The News Pakistan – Thursday, November 22, 2012

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