Pak, Australia talk trade

Agence France Presse

Canberra, June 15:

Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf committed his country to strengthening trade ties with Australia today here,before signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Parliament House here.

Prime minister John Howard on the occasion echoed comments made by the Pakistani leader that trade and investment could help stamp out the poverty that is seen as a breeding ground for militancy.

“I believe that the greatest contribution that the wealthy, developed world could make to the less developed world would be to break down trade barriers,” Howard said.

Speaking at a luncheon later, Howard likened Australia’s warming relationship with Pakistan to its closer ties with its northern neighbour, Indonesia, under the leadership of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who visited Australia earlier this year.

Musharraf, who has used his historic three-day long visit to push for stronger trade ties between the nations, said he had asked for support in joint ventures and investment in agriculture, dairy, livestock and mining.

Pakistan is also lobbying for Australia’s support in joining Asian trade blocs such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

“Where East Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, China and Australia are cooperating economically within the region, our region (South Asia) is out of the loop because of the

conflicts, because of the tension,” Musharraf said at the luncheon.