ISLAMABAD                  -              Pakistan and Japan yesterday vowed to en­hance bilateral cooperation as top diplo­mats discussed Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held telephone conversation with his Jap­anese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, on the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

“Underscoring that the Pandemic was the gravest challenge to confront human­ity this century, the Foreign Minister of­fered condolences over loss of precious lives, and commended the effective mea­sures being taken by Japan to contain the outbreak,” said a foreign ministry state­ment.

The foreign minister, it says, thanked Ja­pan for its assistance to Pakistan to com­bat the pandemic, as well as in dealing with the desert locust attack. While conveying his confidence that Pakistanis in Japan will be looked after, he assured Foreign Minis­ter Motegi of all possible facilitation of Jap­anese nationals in Pakistan.

The two ministers exchanged views about the socio-economic ramifications of the pandemic. Highlighting that the devel­oping countries had to fight on two fronts -- containing the virus, and staving off star­vation -- the foreign minister briefed Mo­tegi about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for devel­oping countries.

Touching upon the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the for­eign minister highlighted that human rights violations were continuing unabat­ed and concerns had intensified about spread of the infection due to restrictions on information dissemination and unfet­tered access to medical and other essen­tial supplies.

“There were also concerns about demon­ization of Indian Muslims in the context of Covid-19 and growing Islamophobia,” the foreign ministry statement said.

It added: “the both foreign Ministers ex­pressed commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations. It was agreed to com­memorate the 70th anniversary of estab­lishment of Pakistan-Japan diplomatic re­lations in 2022 in a befitting manner.”

Separately, a Japanese embassy state­ment said Foreign Ministers Qureshi held a telephone talk to exchange views on future prospect of Japan-Pakistan relationship amid the global spread of novel coronavi­rus diseases with FM Motegi Toshimitsu.

At the outset, Foreign Minister Mote­gi expressed his gratitude for the support from the Government of Pakistan to repa­triate Japanese nationals residing in Paki­stan in mid-April.

Foreign Minister Motegi requested con­tinued cooperation for ensuring the safe­ty of Japanese nationals in Pakistan. For­eign Minister Qureshi explained the novel coronavirus disease situation in Pakistan as well as efforts by the Government of Pa­kistan.

In addition, Foreign Minister Qureshi showed his appreciation for Foreign Min­ister Motegi’s explanation of Japan’s sup­port for Pakistan related to COVID-19. The two Ministers shared the importance of cooperation within the internation­al community against the global spread of COVID-19, and confirmed that the two ministers will continue to promote bilat­eral cooperation.

Furthermore, Foreign Minister Motegi showed his intention to advance various bilateral dialogues and people-to-peo­ple exchanges, once COVID-19 situation calms down.