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Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary has said that draft of the Islamabad Declaration of the 13th ECO summit has been finalized focused on the connectivity among the member states. Briefing media after the conclusion of two-day Senior Officials Meeting of ECO member countries in Islamabad on Monday evening, he said that the declaration will be adopted in the meeting of the heads of states and governments of the member states chaired by the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday. He said the recommendations of the Senior Officials Meeting will be presented to the Council of Ministers meeting of ECO member states to be held in Islamabad tomorrow. He said that the main focus of the summit is on connectivity in the sectors of energy, infrastructure, transport and trade among the regional countries and beyond. He said cooperation in these sectors have a message of prosperity and development for the whole region and the people of the region. The Foreign Secretary said Pakistan has received positive response from the member states. He said that five heads of states, three heads of governments, one deputy Prime Minister, and one special envoy will attend the summit meeting on Wednesday. He said  participation  of the heads of states and the government in the summit is their confidence in Pakistan.

Analysts live on Phone:

Dr. Humayyiun Iqbal Shami (Economist)

“ECO was initially started as RCD in 1964 by Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. After gaining independence from Russia, Central Asian republics also joined this forum and it became ECO. The countries in ECO have huge potential and they can achieve tremendous economic benefits from this forum. Trade between neighboring countries has also been easy and EU was established on the basis of this concept. ECO member countries are geographically connected and trade between them can flourish easily. 

Dr. Abid Qayyum Sulehri (Economic Expert)

“Many decades ago, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey started this forum, which expanded with the inclusion of Central Asian republics and Afghanistan. The purpose of this summit is to discuss trade cooperation, regional connectivity and energy initiatives among member countries. This summit is imperative in diplomatic terms as well. It s an effective response to rhetoric of isolation of Pakistan."

Topic 02: George W. Bush on Trump and Russia: 'We all need answers'

Former President George W. Bush said Monday "we all need answers" on the extent of contact between President Donald Trump's team and the Russian government, and didn't rule out the idea that a special prosecutor could be necessary to lead an investigation.
The Republican also defended the media's role in keeping world leaders in check, noting that "power can be addictive," and warned against immigration policies that could alienate Muslims. "I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law," Bush told NBC's "Today" show. Bush's comments came after a prominent Republican in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, called for a special prosecutor to investigate whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and was in touch with Trump's top advisers during the campaign.

Topic 03: Turkey-backed Syrian rebels clash with army in north

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel groups clashed with government forces near a city in northern Syria that the rebels recently captured from Islamic State, sources on both sides said, the second such confrontation in the region this month. The fighting late on Sunday took place in an area where the sides are waging separate campaigns against Islamic State. Russia, which backs the Syrian government, mediated to bring an end to the confrontation, according to a source in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia also intervened to halt the previous clash.

Topic 04: Israeli aircraft attack Hamas wounding at least four people

The Israeli military said its planes attacked five positions belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, in response to the rocket strike.  Witnesses said the four wounded were bystanders. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel would be responsible for any escalation if it continued to target "resistance positions".

Topic 05: Iraqi forces seize Mosul bridge as thousands of civilians flee

Iraqi forces seized a damaged Mosul bridge on Monday which could link up their units on either side of the Tigris river, as thousands of civilians fled the fighting for Islamic State's remaining stronghold in the west of the city. U.S.-backed army and police units advanced through populated western districts, fighting tough street battles, and announced they had captured Mosul's southernmost bridge. Once repaired, the bridge could help bring reinforcements and supplies from the eastern side, piling pressure on the militants dug in the western side among 750,000 civilians. Iraqi forces captured eastern Mosul in January, after 100 days of fighting. They launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris a week ago.

Topic 06: Airstrikes kill 11 in Syria- Many people are still missing and rescue teams are searching for anyone trapped under the rubble

In Syria, 11 people have been killed in government airstrikes in Idlib province.
According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the war planes hit several areas in the town of Ariha. Many people are still missing and rescue teams are searching for anyone trapped under the rubble.

Topic 07: Hungary to build second line of fence along its border with Serbia

Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its border with Serbia to stop refugees. This was confirmed by a government spokesman today. The government has earmarked 38 billion forints for the fence and containment camps to hold migrants. The move is being criticized by rights groups. Human Rights Watch deputy director Benjamin Ward said the European Commission should not stand by while Hungary makes a mockery of the right to seek asylum.

Topic 08: EU imposes sanctions on North Korea

The European Union has imposed additional sanctions on North Korea over nuclear and ballistic missile tests carried out in defiance of the UN Security Council. The European Council, comprising the EU's 28 member states, said the new measures include restrictions on trade in metals from North Korea, ban on sale of new helicopters and vessels to Pyongyang, and tighter controls on other sectors.

Topic 09: Syrian opposition to meet Russian envoys in Geneva

The main opposition group at Syrian peace talks in Geneva plans to meet Russian envoys later today to discuss political transition.  The High Negotiations Committee negotiator Mohammed Alloush told media that the opposition wanted to discuss the promises the Russians did not keep. Alloush said the opposition would also talk on humanitarian situation and will emphasize that talks should focus on a real political change. Meanwhile, Turkey-backed Syrian rebel groups clashed with government forces near al-Bab city in northern Syria.
Topic 10: Mahershala Ali becomes first Muslim actor to win Oscar

Heavily-backed favorite Mahershala Ali won the best supporting actor Oscar on Sunday for his portrayal of a drug dealer in coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” - becoming the first Muslim film star to pick up a golden statuette. A first-time nominee, the 43-year-old actor saw off competition from Britain's Dev Patel, veteran US actors Jeff Bridges and Michael Shannon and newcomer Lucas Hedges. He thanked his fellow cast members - and his wife, who gave birth to their first child, a baby girl, just days earlier.

Host:      Shehzad

Co-Host:  Tazin


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