Jan 15 -
Islamabad, Beirut sign two accords
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and Chief Executive Gen
Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday agreed to forge defence cooperation between Beirut
They were addressing a joint press conference soon after
their talks and signing of two agreements on promotion and protection of
investment and bilateral trade between the two countries.
Both the leaders said that their talks had focused on
cementing their collaboration in all fields, including the defence.
"The two delegations began talks with their desire that
we collaborate economically and in all fields of activities, including defence
cooperation," said Gen Musharraf in his brief opening remarks.
Answering a question, the Lebanese prime minister said:
"The focus of our talks was on the development of relations in all
Mr Hariri said Lebanon was the gateway to the Middle East. It
has taken many steps like slashing customs duties to open its economy for
"Lebanon can be used as a base to sell Pakistani
products in the Middle East," he said in response to a question.
He said Lebanon could encourage all the businessmen in that
area to make investment in Pakistan. Gen Musharraf, responding to a question on
the defence cooperation between the two countries, said both sides had been
collaborating in the field in the past as well.
Lebanese officials had been coming to Pakistan for training
in various courses. Besides Pakistan had bought Mirage aircraft from Lebanon, he
"We have certain maintenance facilities and defence
production which we could open to Lebanon to expand cooperation between the two
sides, Gen Musharraf said.
Pakistan, Jordan to boost ties
The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and Jordanian
Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb held in-depth official talks on Tuesday, calling
for practical measures to strengthen cooperation in various fields. The
Jordanian PM stated that both the sides had expressed the resolve to expand
relations in the fields of culture, economy, science & technology.
He hoped that the increased mutual cooperation would yield
positive results and help resolve problems facing the two nations.
Reciprocating Mr Ragheb's remarks, the CE said that Islamabad
was appreciative of closeness of their existing ties and there was identity of
views on many regional and international issues.
"The two sides should identify areas of cooperation to
put our ideas into practice for mutual benefit."
Pakistan, Syria sign four pacts
Pakistan and Syria signed on Monday four agreements in
various fields to promote cooperation. Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf
and Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa Miro inked an overall agreement on
The agreements are: executive programme for cultural
cooperation 2001-2005, first executive programme for science and technical
cooperation, cooperation agreement between SANA and APP, and the memorandum of
understanding on agricultural cooperation.
Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, Science and Technology
Minister Dr Attaur Rehman and Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood signed the
agreements on behalf of Pakistan.
Pakistan's ambassador to Damascus Sibte Yahya Naqvi and
Syrian Arab News Agency director-general Ali Abd Al-Karim Ali signed the
agreement of news cooperation on behalf of APP and SANA, respectively.
Relaxation in some IMF terms likely
Some of the tough and numerous IMF conditionalities may be
eased to remove hurdles and help Pakistan meet key fiscal and monetary targets.
The first indication of a possible relaxation has come from
the Fund agreeing to Islamabad's request to delay the change-over from fixed
rate of return on Defence Savings Certificates to market-determined yield on
long-term government bond.
Under the stand by arrangement (SBA), the fixed return on
DSCs was to end on Jan 1. On the same date, the Central Directorate of National
Savings (CDNS) however informed all its outlets that "the DCS issued from
Jan 1 to June 30, shall carry the existing rates of profit and shall remain
valid for 10 years."
US seeks Pakistan's help
Pakistan and US officials are meeting in Islamabad on Friday
to discuss Washington's new move at WTO forum, which aims at eliminating export
subsidies on farm products, increasing market access, reducing role of state
trading entities and limiting domestic support to the farmers.
Official sources told that deputy US administrator of
International Trade Policy (ITP), Patricia Sheikh, is meeting federal
secretaries of commerce and agriculture to explain the US government's
agriculture negotiations' proposals, submitted to the WTO and seek Pakistan's
support on these issues.
ECC sets up body on sugar imports
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has
set up a ministerial committee and empowered it to make necessary adjustment in
the duty on the import of sugar as demanded by the All Pakistan Sugar Mills
Association (APSMA) and cane growers.
Federal Minister for Agriculture Khair Mohammad Junejo and
Minister for Commerce, Industries and Production Abdul Razzak Dawood would be
the members of ECC's sub-committee on sugar import, which is authorized to make
necessary adjustment when required.
Riba-free system to take time
The government is not yet ready to introduce interest-free
banking because of the anticipated repercussions of the change over on
Pakistan's relations with the international donor agencies and foreign
Official sources told on Monday that Pakistan, which was
still facing tough time from the multilateral agencies and G-8 countries despite
getting $596 million facility from the IMF to avoid default, will experience
more difficulties if it decided to go for Riba-free banking from July 1 this