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    Pakistan, Afghanistan vow stronger trade ties

    ISLAMABAD (PAN): Pakistan said on Monday stronger trade, economic and cultural ties with Afghanistan would boost regional economy and improve living standards of the two nations.

    Pakistan Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafiz Shaikh told the inaugural session of the 8th Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission in Islamabad that the panel provided a platform to explore avenues of greater economic cooperation. 

    Vast opportunities of economic integration existed between the two nations, he said, asserting Pakistan's commitment to exploiting the potential for the prosperity of the two countries.

    They proposed a Pakistan-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote the private sector and business-to-business links between the two countries, the federal minister said, adding his country would construct the Jalalabad-Peshawar rail link and Jalalabad-Torkham road.

    For his part, Afghan Finance Minister Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said the neighbours shared deep-rooted historical, cultural and regional ties. He stressed the need for strengthening trade links between the brotherly countries.

    He expressed gratitude to Pakistan for $300 million assistance, saying Islamabad, despite facing internal challenges, had always helped Kabul. He added the assistance had had a direct impact on the living standards of the Afghan people.

    Participants of the two-day meeting reviewed the implementation status of the last session and agreed to evaluate bilateral trade, the transit trade agreement, Pakistani assistance, capacity-building programmes for Afghanistan and cooperation in education, engineering, culture, communication and tourism sectors.