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Foreign Minister Bilawal to visit US on Dec 12

Sources say he will discuss trade facilities for Pakistan with US officials
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during an interview with Al Jazeera on December 4, 2022. Screengrab
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during an interview with Al Jazeera on December 4, 2022. Screengrab

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will leave for the United States to participate in the conference of 77 countries tomorrow (Monday).

During the visit, the foreign minister will hold meetings with US officials in which matters pertaining to more trade facilities for Pakistan will come under discussion.

Sources said that during his visit matters relating to the United States influence on various financial issues with international financial institutions will be discussed and the situation in Afghanistan will also be considered.

On Friday, in a special interview during Singapore video, FM Bilawal urged the world to change its perception and have a fresh look at Pakistan that is away from its stereotypical image.

He highlighted that Pakistan has a young population, where 114 million of its 220 million people are under the age of 25, and that it has the fastest-growing middle class in the world, after China and India.

Bhutto added Pakistan has many freelancers who are providing services in IT, telecom, e-commerce, data analytics, financial services, music and health. “Singapore and other Asean countries outsource many IT-related activities and financial services and can benefit immensely from our young talent”

The foreign minister while making the case for Pakistan’s emerging market said that there is a great potential for Singapore and Pakistan to work together, particularly in trade, and entrepreneurs from both sides should continue to create opportunities to collaborate, adding that Pakistan places great importance on its relations with Singapore bilaterally, as well as in the context of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

He also noted how Pakistan was among the first countries to recognise the Republic soon after independence, and how its expatriate community has contributed to Singapore’s development in its early years.

Bilawal pointed out how the two nations have exchanged high-level visits in the past, including then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s visits to Pakistan in 1988 and 1992, and his late mother Benazir Bhutto’s visit to Singapore in 1995 as then prime minister of Pakistan.

“Over time, we lost the momentum in our bilateral relations,” said FM Bilawal, adding that he was coming to Singapore to revive that momentum and intensify the bilateral exchanges. “Pakistan is keen to strengthen this relationship in all dimensions.”

There is a need for the world to have a fresh look at Pakistan that is away from its stereotypical image, he said, adding that there are so many opportunities in Pakistan awaiting the world, for which the first step is to lift the travel advisories against the country. “I strongly feel that the world needs to look at us more objectively, as a promising emerging market.”

On the other hand, in his meeting with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, Bilawal discussed enhanced engagement and mutually beneficial cooperation. Bilawal, who arrived in Singapore on Thursday on an official visit, shared Pakistan desire to intensify cooperation with Asean.

The foreign minister also held a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and reviewed the state of bilateral relations. The two sides agreed to enhance bilateral engagements and cooperation.

The foreign minister visited the headquarters of multinational technology conglomerate Meta (Facebook) Asia-Pacific in Singapore. He highlighted the achievements and huge potential of the information technology sector in Pakistan and expressed keen desire for enhanced cooperation between Meta and Pakistan.

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