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Jul 24 - 30, 2000

EU may review ties with Pakistan in September

Pakistan, worried about stagnating relations with the European Union, is pressing the 15 nation bloc to resume normal bilateral economic and diplomatic ties, including efforts to kick start a political dialogue suspended after last October's takeover.

"Pakistan and the EU must re-engage with each other," said Inamul Haque, Pakistan's Federal Secretary for Foreign Relations following meetings with senior Belgian and EU officials and members of the European Parliament.

"We must talk to each other to resolve our problems," Haque said, adding that the EU's decision to downgrade relations with the present government in Islamabad by reducing aid (except to social sector projects) and suspending the signature of a new trade and economic treaty was hurting Pakistan's economy.

The EU should see that the direction of the present government in Pakistan is right and should resume financial and economic assistance, the Foreign Secretary added.

Resuming aid only in two years once elections are held could be "too late" for Pakistan's economic well being, he cautioned. But EU insiders say Pakistan faces an uphill struggle in seeking closer relations with the bloc. "We do not like military regimes," the EU's "high representative" for common foreign and security policy told.

"Relations cannot be the same with democratic countries as they are with governments that are the product of a military coup," Solana added.

However, the Union is determined to maintain all channels of communication open with Islamabad, convinced that isolating Pakistan is not in Europe's interest.

EU governments are set to review relations with Islamabad in talks in Brussels in early September, with suggestions that political discussions could resume, albeit at a low level, with Islamabad.

Kuwait to supply oil without disruption

Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Usman Aminuddin said on Tuesday that the Kuwait government has assured him that there would be no disruption in supply of oil products to Pakistan in the wake of last month's explosion at Kuwait's major Al Ahmadi refinery that affected its production capacity.

Mr Usman, who arrived on Monday as a special envoy of the chief executive, General Pervez Musharraf, was addressing a press conference after holding talks with the Kuwaiti leaders.

On his talks with Kuwait's Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Mr Usman said he emphasized Islamabad's policy of total peace in the region. "I reiterated that Pakistan would like to maintain peaceful relations with all countries in the region and seeks a dialogue with India at any time, any place and any level."

He said that Pakistan seeks Kuwait's support in promoting unity among Ummah and proposed that "we all take a concerted action for seeking a role of the massive Islamic world in international arena."

No plan to isolate Pakistan, says UK

The British government has lifted the ban on the sales of some of the military equipment and spares to Pakistan, mainly to ensure that the British-origin naval hardware and ships in the Pakistan Navy remain functional and serviceable.

The move does not add to Pakistan's aggressive capability but only ensures its defensive capacity and that too on the high seas where its ability to launch any offensive campaign is highly limited, a high official of British Foreign Office, responsible for Pakistan and Afghanistan Desk, said.

He did not think the timing of the decision was all that significant. Such decisions took some time to process. He did not agree with the suggestion that the decision signalled a softening of British attitude towards the military regime in Islamabad.

PTV to start 100 cable TV channels

Pakistan Television will shortly provide facility of cable TV channels throughout the country under which more than 100 TV channels of different countries can be seen, its learnt.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued a licence to PTV for starting a cable TV under Section 5(2)(0) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act, 1996, and Rule 3 of the Cable Television Operation Rules, 2000, framed under Section 57(1) of the Act.

Chinese FM arriving

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan will arrive on Saturday for three days of top-level meetings designed to foster the "all-weather friendship" between the two countries, officials said.

He would meet Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf as well as Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and President Rafiq Tarar, they said on Thursday.

A foreign ministry official said: "All issues of mutual interest will be discussed, including the situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan."

Saudi firm files $70m damages suit

A Saudi-based mega concern has filed in the International Chamber of Arbitration Paris a suit for $70 million damages against Pakistan for the government's alleged failure to implement an agreement signed with it four years back.

Dalla Group, operating in different business spheres in various countries, has filed the suit on account of Pakistan's failure to construct a Haj complex in Makkah. However, Pakistan is refusing to defend the case and waiting for an ex parte decision, sources told.

The Group was awarded a $225 million contract to build the complex to accommodate almost 35,000 Pakistani pilgrims during Haj seasons.

Cabinet approves amendments

The Federal Cabinet which met Wednesday with Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf in chair, approved amendments in the Securities and Exchange Ordinance 1969. The proposed amendments have been necessitated to strengthen the securities market through improved governance, regulation and supervision to support orderly growth of companies and restore investors' confidence.