Berlusconi to lead business team to Pakistan

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced here on Wednesday that he planned to visit Pakistan this year at the head of a delegation of businessmen and entrepreneurs to explore possibilities of investment in key areas of economy, APP reported.

Mr Berlusconi made the announcement after a one-to-one meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari at which the latter urged the Italian prime minister to help Pakistan with investment and transfer of technology.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that six areas had been identified for investments by Italian businessmen. These are energy, marble quarrying and dressing, gemstone, leather value-addition and agriculture.

The president said at the meeting that Pakistan was at the centre of a huge market of nearly two billion people in parts of China, India and the entire Central Asia.

Mr Berlusconi said that Italy was aware of the strategic importance of Pakistan and was ready to help the country in all possible ways.

He asked Italian ambassador to Pakistan to work out firm proposals for collaboration in about a dozen critical areas.

Italy, he said, would continue its efforts to persuade European Union to sign a free trade agreement with Pakistan. President Zardari had told him that the sole purpose of his visit was to seek trade and not aid.

Mr Zardari also suggested that special consideration needed to be given to Pakistan considering that it was afflicted by the scourge of terrorism.

The Italian prime minister said that democracy in Pakistan should be strengthened by the world community. He said Italy was in line with the FoDP and would support all strategic and economic initiatives to help Pakistan.

He also announced two scholarships for bright Pakistani students for studies in higher education in the Friendship University set up by him in Milan.

President Zardari also held a meeting with Speaker of National Assembly Gian Franco Fani and discussed matters pertaining to exchange of parliamentary delegations.

The two sides observed that the level of political and economic cooperation between the two countries should be strengthened through exchanges of parliamentary delegations.

Read the full story here.


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