Zahid Malik

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 – Paris (France)—Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani arrived here Tuesday on a three-day official visit to hold talks with French leadership on a range of issues including security and trade.

During Gilani’s visit, Pakistan and France are likely to sign a Joint Declaration on security cooperation and economic partnership.

This is Prime Minister Gilani’s first official visit to France where he will meet President Nicholas Sarkozy and Prime MinisterFrancois Fillon, besides interacting with the business community.

The two countries are also expected to ink a Memorandum of Understanding between the Federation of French Business Corporations and Pakistan Joint Business Council to establish the Pakistan-France Joint Business Council. The purpose is to strengthen trade linkages in the fields of energy, telecommunication, infrastructure development, banking, environment, waste management and defence.

Gilani’s meeting with President Sarkozy will focus on bilateral, regional and international issues and the two countries relations in the changing international scenarios. The meeting of two leaders will be followed by a press stake-out.

Prime Minister Gilani will meet the members of MEDEF – Mouvement des Enterprises de France (Movement of the French Enterprises), the largest union of employers in France.

He will also visit French Senate and meet its President besides meeting the French ministers for defence and foreign affairs.

Gilani is likely to meet Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Aga Khan community.

France and Pakistan enjoy good trade relations. The volume of bilateral trade stood at US $ 1106.19 million during last year including Pakistani exports of US $ 682.77 million. The imports were valued at US $ 423.42 million during the same period.

Exports to France include leather products, molasses, plastics, hand-knotted carpets, footwear, surgical instruments and sports goods. Imports on the other hand include electrical machinery, gas turbines, aircraft and their spare parts, pharmaceutical products, chemicals, iron and steel.

Political interaction between Pakistan and France has increased in the recent past with President Zardari’s visit to Paris in May 2009 and August 2010. French President Sarkozy is also expected to visit Pakistan in near future.

The French government has provided Euros 1.3 million apart for airlifting of around 200 tons of relief goods for Pakistan’s flood devastated areas. France has been participating in the activities of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP).

Prime Minister Gilani’s entourage included Privatization Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and ANP chief Asfand Yar Wali

President Pakistan Business Council Kamran Mirza and members of the parliament including Raheela Baloch, Rana Afzal Hussain, Akram Masih Gil, Farhat Muhammad Khan, Haji Ghulam Ali, Muhammad Jadam Mangrio and Jawad Hussain were part of the entourage. First Lady Begum Fauzia Gilani also accompanied the Prime Minister.

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