H.E Salahuddin Rabanni with H.E Sartaj Aziz in the fifth Ministerial Meeting of Heart of Asia, Islamabad.

Thank you Excellency, 
Honorable members of the press, Good afternoon,

Before starting to share a few main points about the Fifth ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia –Istanbul process andthe Islamabad declaration, I would like to take a moment to express my sincereappreciation and gratitude to my dear colleague His Excellency Sartaj Aziz for his tireless contributions throughout the year particularly his hard work today as co-chair of this conference.

I also want to thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for hosting the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia- Istanbul Process andtheir gracious hospitality.

During our discussions today weacknowledged the importance of the Heart of Asia Process as an effective regional platform aimed at a stable, peaceful, prosperous and developed Afghanistan and the region. An initiative that seeks to complement other existing regional initiatives and processes for promoting cooperation among us.

Today’s conference resulted in the adoption of Islamabaddeclaration that reflects a wide range of commitments by the participating and supporting countries and supporting regional and international organizations of the Heart of Asia – IstanbulProcess.
As appropriately themed “ enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region”, this ministerial conference comes at a moment when in-depth discussions and consensus on these two areas are of great importance.

In this context, we noted that the security threats we are facing are not confined to a particular country and there is need for timely collaborative measures to be taken in order to prevent its spread to the entire region. 
Hence, the need to explore a collective security approach and pursue a common counter-terrorism strategy was highly emphasized.

Dear Friends,
Afghanistan is at the forefront of the war against terrorism, fighting regional and international terrorist groups and safeguarding the region against the spread of terrorism. Hence we made a call on our regional and international partners to work with us and provide the necessary assistance so that we can continue this battle.
To address the issues of terrorism and violent extremism, we agreed that specific measures and actions should be taken to deny terrorists' access to financial and material resources.
In this context, we tasked relevant Senior Officialsto hold a meeting, in the first half of 2016, on security issues and counter terrorism measures.
Similarly, We agreed that economic development is vital to our overall welfare,prosperity, and stability. The conference urged cooperation among regional countries on projects that have the potential of transforming Afghanistan as a transit hub in the Heart of Asia region.
We concurred that making the customs procedures and policies easier, is imperative for removing barriers and would help facilitate smooth movement of goods and increase the economic growth and welfare of this region.
Last but not least, we thank all countries,including the RepublicofIndia,for offering to host the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process’s Ministerial Conference as Co-chair in 2016.
With this, I want to open up for a few questions.

Thank you all for your presence here

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