Abu Dhabi: The UAE sought Pakistan's support in putting the Middle East peace process back on track.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, said: "We look to Pakistan for diplomatic support in the efforts by the UAE and other Arab states to convince the international community that action to put the peace process back on track is urgently required, if we are to lift the burden of conflict and deprivation from the Palestinian people and to give them not only the security and stability that they need, but also to bring peace more widely throughout the region."
Shaikh Abdullah told the Associated Press of Pakistan, ahead of the UAE-Pakistan ministerial commission meeting that relations between the UAE and Pakistan are deep-rooted and close.
"The balance of trade between our two countries now tops $4 billion (Dh14.68 billion) a year, and is expected to rise to over $5 billion in the current year."
Shaikh Abdullah added hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis live and work in the UAE, contributing in a variety of ways to the growth of the economy, and at the same time remitting home nearly $700 million a year.
Shaikh Abdullah said prospects for further growth of economic ties between the two countries are, quite simply, enormous.
However, it is going to be a two-way process. In the last couple of years, more than $2 billion of UAE investment has been made in Pakistan, in telecommunications and in the development of Gwadar port, for example.
"We in the UAE view Pakistan as one of our strategic economic partners for the future, and we hope that government and investors in Pakistan view us in the same light," he said.
Shaikh Abdullah voiced hope that discussions currently under way on a Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council will soon reach a satisfactory conclusion that will help to promote trade within the region.
Shaikh Abdullah said that political ties and security issues will also be tabled for discussions. "Our two countries share common concerns with regards to issues like terrorism and financial crime and we'll be looking at the work under way for an agreement on criminal and judicial matters."
The meetings, he said, will also tackle issues of mutual concern such as the situation in Afghanistan, the conflict in Iraq and controversy over Iran's nuclear programme.
Shaikh Abdullah welcomed the recent call by President Musharraf for the restructuring of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
Joint meetings 'to be base for vital new era'
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister presided over the UAE-Pakistani joint Ministerial committee which started its meeting yesterday in Islamabad.
The meeting was presided from the Pakistan side by Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri, the Pakistani Foreign Minister.
Shaikh Abdullah expressed his hope in that the meetings of the joint committee will be a new boosting base for a vital new era in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Shaikh Abdullah also said in the speech he delivered at the beginning of the meetings that there are a number of agreements and memorandums which will be signed, such as Global War on Terrorism.