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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visits Pakistan

June 7, 2022

Annalena Baerbock has begun her first tour of Pakistan as foreign minister. The humanitarian crisis Afghanistan has been among the key points of discussion.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is pictured with Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardawi
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will be in Pakistan for a two-day tripImage: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for the start of her two-day visit to Pakistan.

The Green party lawmaker held talks with her counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari which centered around bilateral cooperation and regional challenges, including the situation in Afghanistan.

What did the foreign ministers talk about?

"We discussed ways to enhance our existing cooperation particularly in the areas of trade and investment, climate change, defense and people to people contact," Bhutto Zardari told a joint press conference, adding that they hoped to inaugurate the consulate general of Pakistan in Munich.

There was a detailed discussion about the "grave humanitarian situation" facing 40 million Afghans according to Pakistan's minister of  foreign affairs.

Bhutto Zardari also pointed out that while "the world's attention and resources were currently focused on the Ukrainian crisis it was essential that the people of Afghanistan receive world's attention."

Baerbock said that Tuesday's talks took place at a time of "multiple crises" and that the Taliban "have brought incredible suffering and hunger to the people in Afghanistan," noting that the crisis had consequences outside of its borders with Pakistan bearing the brunt.

Germany's foreign minister spoke about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying the restriction on wheat exports and Russia's siege of Ukrainian ports "have sent food prices skyrocketing." This was said in the context of Pakistan's heavy reliance on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine.

Baerbock stressed the importance of working together in tackling these issues.

"The international community must stand united and together tell the Taliban loud and clear: 'You are heading in the wrong direction,'" Germany's top diplomat said on her first trip to Pakistan.

What is Germany hoping to achieve in Pakistan?

Baerbock is looking to increase pressure on the Afghan Taliban over human rights and it will be one of the key issues during the foreign minister's Pakistan visit.

Baerbock sees Pakistan as a crucial partner in the evacuation of people from neighboring Afghanistan in need of protection.

Pakistan has been affected more than any other country by the impact of the crisis in Afghanistan and "at the same time is a key partner for us in bringing people out of Afghanistan to safety, for whom we bear responsibility," she said ahead of her tour on Monday.

However, the foreign minister acknowledged that the evacuations had started slowly

"What is clear is that there are no easy solutions, and certainly no truly satisfactory ones. In view of the catastrophic situation, we must therefore be very pragmatic and need cooperation with a wide variety of actors," she said.

Can Germany bring India and Pakistan closer together?

Baerbock will meet staff of the German embassy and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), which has been working with people who have fled Afghanistan.

Baerbock will also meet Afghan refugees who are in Islamabad and want to leave for Germany.

kb,dvv/rt (AFP, dpa, KNA)