The first round of consultations on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for global debt relief has begun at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Ambassadors from over 22 countries discussed the matter at their virtual meeting in New York.

Senior officials of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the UN Conference on Trade and Development also participated in the meeting.

In his opening remarks, read by Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasised the need for addressing the debt distress of many developing countries, which could eventually become a debt crisis.

The foreign minister expressed hope that the informal consultations would lead to an agreement.

President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande welcomed the premier’s initiative and called for quickly moving on debt and concessional finance to support the most vulnerable people around the world.

Pakistan will evolve consensus on PM’s debt relief call: FO

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed maintained the need for the international community to address debt challenges faced by many developing countries in a sustainable manner.

During the meeting, several proposals for addressing the issue were discussed.

In April, PM Imran appealed to the international community to launch a debt relief initiative to help the developing countries cope with the crisis arising out of Covid-19 pandemic.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had also supported PM Imran’s demand for debt relief to developing countries, saying such a measure must be an “important part” of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, the Foreign Office said the premier’s call for relief was widely welcomed at the United Nations including by the presidents of the general assembly and the economic and social councils.