ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday hailed the role of European Union for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan.

The president was talking to Member of the European Parliament and Vice President of Parliamentary Development Committee, Nirj Deva, who called on him here at Awan-e-Sadr.

He said that Pakistan valued its relations with the European Union and wanted to further strengthen it.

He said the five-year engagement plan between Pakistan and European Union in 2012 had provided new avenues of cooperation in various fields.

He said that Pakistan wanted good relations with its neighbours and international community and had special importance in its foreign policy with its relations with Afghanistan, India, China and Iran.

The president said that Pakistan started a new phase of its relations with Afghanistan and wanted serious, durable and result-oriented talks with India on all issues including Kashmir.

The President told Nirj Deva that Pakistan supported the UN Security Council efforts for resolution of the Palestine issue.

He said that Pakistan had started military operation Zarb-e-Azb for elimination of terrorists in FATA, which was going on successfully, adding that the government was taking all steps for rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

The president said the member countries of the European Union were playing important role in investment field and the UK, Germany, Italy and Holland were the greatest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan.

He said the trade volume between Pakistan and the EU was $11 billion, which needed further boost.

He said the inclusion of Pakistan in GSP plus would be proved significant for managing economic difficulties and creating job opportunities.

Meanwhile,  President Mamnoon Hussain while talking to Speaker of Iranian Parliament Dr Ali Larijani, who called on him here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr said Pakistan wanted to have good relations with every country of the world, but the ties with neighbouring countries and the Muslim world formed the basis of its foreign policy.

The President said Pakistan desired peace at borders with all the neighbouring countries and also wanted to resolve all issues with India through meaningful and constructive dialogue.

He said the resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions will not only promote peace in the region but also help boost development in the region.

Referring to his recent meetings with the Afghan leadership, the President said particularly his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani remained very productive. He was happy to note that a new era of Pak-Afghan relations had started.

The president said since Pakistan and Iran were facing the common challenge of terrorism, the two countries will have to make joint efforts to tackle this menace.

President Mamnoon said that ongoing operation against the militants and extremists in tribal areas would soon meet its logical end and ensure peace in the region.

He said regional peace would help Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to work for betterment of the region.

President Mamnoon said Pakistan was determined to complete the project of gas pipeline with Iran.

He stressed cooperation with Iran in different fields including trade and defence and added that Iran could benefit from the Pakistani defence equipment.

Speaker of Iranian Parliament Dr Ali Larijani emphasized the need for prudence to deal with the problems in the Muslim countries.

He said that Iran wants to increase trade volume with Pakistan and expressed interest in the import of rice from Pakistan. The Iranian Speaker lauded Pakistan’s efforts and vigilance to protect its geographical borders and hoped that Pakistan would soon overcome all its issues.

He said any unwanted third party should not be allowed to interfere in this regard.

President Mamnoon and the Iranian Speaker called for opening the branches of their banks on reciprocal basis and added that it would enhance their bilateral relations.

Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and higher officials of the Aiwan-e-Sadr were present.