UN chief on first official visit to Pakistan

Islamabad (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived here on Sunday on his first official visit to Pakistan to attend an international conference on Afghan refugees. He will also be visiting the holy Sikh shrine in Kartarpur.

During his visit, the UN chief will speak at the international conference '40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan', reported Dawn news.

The two-day conference in Islamabad, starting on February 17, will be a recognition of Pakistan's "tremendous generosity" in hosting millions of refugees from Afghanistan over four decades, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a regular noon briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.

The conference, which is being organised by the Pakistan Government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Various senior US officials will also attend the conference.

Guterres is expected to meet with Imran Khan and other high-level government officials, his spokesman said.

Dujarric said the UN chief will also meet Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and speak at an event on sustainable development and climate change. The UN Secretary-General will meet Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Monday.

On Tuesday, he will visit Lahore where he will meet students and attend an event on Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign.

He will also travel to Kartarpur to visit the Sikh holy site of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said the UN chief will not be visiting the disputed Kashmir region during this trip.

He is set to return to New York on Wednesday.

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