COLOMBO - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said his government is determined to address the challenges of weak economy‚ energy crisis and militancy.

Addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo‚ he said his government was cognizant of these challenges‚ and desired to address them urgently and simultaneously.

He said the country would be steered out of these crises to lead it towards a bright future. Speaking on the theme of the summit, ‘Growth and Equity: Inclusive Development’, the prime minister said a long-term strategy of sustained and inclusive growth would be evolved to provide equal opportunities to all Pakistanis.

On the agenda item relating to climate change financing at the Commonwealth summit‚ the prime minister said global policies should be framed to motivate private sector. He said there should be enhanced availability of grants and soft loans to the public sector and early operationalization of the Green Climate Fund. He said climate change was a defining reality and needed a multi-pronged and revitalized global partnership for generating the desired financing to confront its effects.

The prime minister said equitable development was indeed one of the most significant challenges confronted by the world particularly the Commonwealth.

Expressing full understanding of these problems, the prime minister assured that his government was determined to address these challenges urgently and simultaneously.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the opening ceremony of the meeting along with other heads of the government. He also attended the lunch hosted by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales for a select group of Commonwealth heads. He would also attend a dinner hosted by Prince Charles for all heads of the delegations.

Meanwhile, Premier Nawaz Sharif has offered that Pakistan government or the private sector could set up sugar mills in Sri Lanka. The prime minister stated this during his meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at President’s House on Thursday evening, said a press release issued by Pakistan High Commission on Friday.

The prime minister’s offer was in response to the one made by Sri Lankan President to invest in the sugar sector in Pakistan. He was accompanied by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications Anusha Rahman, Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani and High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Major General (r) Qasim Qureshi.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated President Rajapaksa on successfully hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013.

He appreciated the economic growth achieved by Sri Lanka since the end of civil war in 2009. He also lauded the leadership of President Rajapaksa for eliminating terrorism from the country.

During the meeting, both leaders agreed to further strengthen economic ties, especially by increasing bilateral trade volume from present US$ 460 million to US$ 1 billion in the next few years.

They also agreed that bilateral flow of investments could play an important role in boosting economic relations.

The meeting between the two leaders, the second one during last two months, would give significant boost to the already strong bilateral ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Sharif also announced a special donation of 100,000 dollars for the newly-established Commonwealth Youth Council.

The contribution, which demonstrates the importance Pakistan attaches to the youth agenda, is intended to fund the youth-led development projects of the CYC in its early years.

The Commonwealth Youth Council was formally launched during the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum held on the margins of the Commonwealth Summit. The newly-established autonomous youth-led body would serve as the representative voice of 1.2 billion young people in the Commonwealth and provide a framework for youth-led development initiatives. The government of Sri Lanka has offered to host the Secretariat of CYC.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif also held a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit. During the meeting, issues of common interests came under discussion. The prime minister is leading Pakistan delegation to the Commonwealth Summit.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry on Saturday said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent visit to Sri Lanka would further strengthen relations.

He said that the Prime Minister’s special interest in the affairs of the youth was a good message. The visit would open vast opportunities for the young people of the two countries. 

Talking to Pakistan Television, he said Sri Lanka had been holding excellent relations with Pakistan since long.

He said the prime minister had given importance to the progress and prosperity of the people of region.