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Qureshi talks FM Bhutan on SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund

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ISLAMABAD March 26 : Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi holds telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji of Bhutan on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discussing the SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund, it was underlined that the fund should be placed under the Secretary General SAARC and the modalities for its use, be finalized through consultations.
Qureshi held a telephone conversation with his Bhutanese counterpart on Thursday. The two ministers discussed the challenges faced by the region and the ways to counter them in the wake of rapid spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Qureshi stated that Pakistan considered SAARC an important platform for regional cooperation. Reaffirming Pakistan’s abiding commitment to the SAARC process, he 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 may be organized in view of the prevailing global health emergency. Foreign Minister Dorji welcomed the proposal and expressed Bhutan’s readiness to participate.
Dilating upon the economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing countries, Qureshi underscored the need for debt restructuring of the developing countries to enable them to divert resources towards saving lives.
He shared that the President World Bank and Managing Director IMF have also raised this issue and in this regard the UN Secretary General has also emphasized the need for out of box solutions.
Appreciating Pakistan’s efforts, 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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