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EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton To Visit Pakistan This Week

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to travel to Pakistan later this week for a series of high-level meetings, a statement issued by her office said Monday.

Ashton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will jointly launch the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue - based on the EU-Pakistan Five-Year Engagement Plan - in Islamabad on June 5. The two leaders will then hold a joint press conference at the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During her visit, the EU High Representative will also meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Waheed Arshad and leaders of the parliamentary opposition. She will also travel to Lahore on June 6 to meet Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa, the Governor of Punjab.

"My visit to Pakistan is an expression of the EU's support for the consolidation of democracy in the country. The launch of the Strategic Dialogue and the Engagement Plan are a chance to strengthen relations, building on the full range of EU-Pakistan cooperation, from foreign and security policy to development and trade," Ashton said in the statement issued ahead of her visit.

She said the two sides aim to use the strategic dialogue to capitalize on the momentum in their relationship created by the special trade measures adopted following the 2010 floods, and noted the significant development and humanitarian assistance EU has since provided Islamabad.

"We want to deepen our collaboration in many areas, including judicial reform, strengthening the democratic institutions but also work jointly on promoting regional stability and tackling extremism and terrorism," Ashton added.

by RTT Staff Writer

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