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FM Qureshi, Bhutanese counterpart discuss anti-coronavirus measures

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday held a telephonic conversation with his Bhutanese counterpart Dr Tandi Dorji and discussed ways to counter challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the Bhutanese FM that Pakistan considers South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as an important platform for regional cooperation. He also reiterated Pakistan’s offer to host the SAARC Health Ministers’ Conference to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in health sector, with special focus on COVID-19. He proposed that a video conference might be organised in view of the prevailing global health emergency.

Bhutanese FM Dorji welcomed the proposal and expressed his country’s readiness to participate. Discussing the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, it was underlined that the fund should be placed under the SAARC secretary general and the modalities for its use must be finalised through consultations.

Dilating upon the economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing countries, FM Qureshi underscored the need for debt restructuring of the developing countries to enable them to divert resources towards saving lives.

He said that the World Bank (WB) president and International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director had also raised this issue and in this regard the United Nations Secretary General (UNSC) had also emphasised the need for out-of-box solutions.

Appreciating Pakistan’s efforts, Bhutanese FM Dorji underscored that given the unprecedented economic challenges faced by the developing countries due to the pandemic, a serious consideration of the proposed restructuring was critical.

The two foreign ministers reaffirmed the need for joint efforts to deal with the current situation and agreed to stay closely engaged in the matter.

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