Kingdom to Take Part in ‘Forum for the Future’

MANAMA, 8 October 2005 — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Pakistan will participate in a meeting to be held in Bahrain on Nov. 11 within the framework of the Group of Eight (G-8) Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiative. The BMENA plan, launched by the G-8 member states including the United States, seeks to promote reform and peace initiatives in individual BMENA countries as well as in the Middle East region as a whole.

Iftikhar Hussain Kazmi, Pakistani ambassador to Bahrain, told Arab News in an interview, here that a delegation led by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri would also attend the Bahrain meeting together with the foreign and finance ministers of 30 countries from the G-8 and BMENA region. The forum will be co-hosted by Bahrain and the UK as G-8 president.

The meeting entitled “Forum for the Future” is important because the BMENA initiative has become the centerpiece of the international partnership by providing a venue to support the reform voices in the region especially after the first meeting under this initiative, which took place in Morocco in Dec. 2004. Moreover, the participating countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bahrain are ardent supporters of all regional and international initiatives, which call for peace and reform.

Referring to the progressively growing relations between the Gulf states and Pakistan, Kazmi said that the two trading blocs were planning to sign a free trade agreement. “Also a draft agreement, which will facilitate periodic consultations between the foreign ministries of Pakistan and Bahrain, is ready to be signed in near future,” said Kazmi, who has served as second secretary from 1979 to 1982 at Pakistani consulate in Jeddah.

He said: “The cooperation between Pakistan and Bahrain will continue to the mutual advantage of the two countries. The two nations are bound together by centuries-old ties of culture and religion.”

Kazmi also noted that “an agreement for avoidance of double taxation had been signed by Pakistan and Bahrain.”

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