ASHGABAT - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said Pakistan was pursuing a policy of strong cooperation with regional countries, especially with the next-door neighbours, for prosperity and enhanced connectivity.

He was speaking at an international conference “Policy of Neutrality: International cooperation for peace, security and development” held here in connection with 20th anniversary of the host country’s policy of permanent neutrality.

The prime minister lauded the Turkmenistan’s policy driven by neutrality and urged the countries to have respect for others’ beliefs and cultures, which were a vital component of neutrality.

He said that Pakistan wanted friendly ties with all countries on equal basis for mutual peace and prosperity. It desired enhanced dialogue for the purpose. “We have firm belief that shared prosperity is real prosperity,” he added.

Prime Minister Nawaz mentioned the CASA-1000, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and road projects with Afghanistan, which were manifestation of his policy to enhance regional connectivity.

Nawaz said the key pillar of his policy was regional integration and connectivity. TIR (International Road Transports) conventions and WTO (World Trade Organisation) would help in promoting trade in the landlocked region, he added. Earlier, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov welcomed the dignitaries, including heads of state and foreign ministers from the region, South Asia and Gulf.

He said the policy of neutrality adhered to by Turkmenistan was beneficial for the whole region as well as the whole world.

The Turkmen President highlighted the far-reaching effects of their policy which helped in disarmament and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

He referred to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project as a major energy conduit in the region as part of their grand efforts to share abundant natural resources with the regional countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, presidents of Belarus, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Georgia and Uzbekistan, and Indian Vice President also spoke on the occasion.

During a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ashgabat, Nawaz said war on terror will be taken to its logical conclusion. Nawaz said the government and its institutions are playing a vital role in the fight against terrorism. He said Turkey is a time-tested friend of Pakistan and both the countries have historic relations.

Erdogan said Pakistan-Turkey cooperation will open a new chapter of development in the region. Both the leaders also exchanged views on the situation in Syria and Afghanistan.