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British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs call on Prime Minister Gilani

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Islamabad: The Prime Minister has stated that the enhanced strategic dialogue launched between Pakistan and UK earlier this year, reflects the mutual desire between the two countries to further deepen their cordial relations. He urged that the five streaks of cooperation identified in the strategic dialogue i.e. in trade and business, financial and development cooperation, education, cultural cooperation; and defense and security should be pursued concurrently to achieve maximum results.

The Prime Minister was talking to the British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr. William Hague who called on him at PM’s House here this evening.

The Prime Minister appreciated Britain’s development and budgetary assistance particularly Pounds 650 million in the next three years for enabling four million children to enrol in primary and secondary schools in Pakistan. He termed DFID as an important development partner which was working in line with Pakistan’s national priorities and through Pakistan’s government system which helps ensure efficient and effective utilization of resources.

While referring to Pakistan’s unparalleled sacrifices in the war against terror and commitment to take this fight to its logical end, the Prime Minister said that Prime Minister Cameron’s remarks that “Pakistan’s enemy is the UK’s enemy” had gone down extremely well with the people of Pakistan in the aftermath of OBL killing.

The Prime Minister regretted the fact that despite repeated requests by UK, EU member states and other friendly countries, India had practically vetoed EUs trade concession for Pakistan at the WTO. He nonetheless urged the British leadership to continue pursuing this matter with India to withdraw its objections. He hoped that other countries would also show the same level of understanding of Pakistan’s sacrifices and sensitivities to make his government sustain the national consensus in fighting the common menace of terrorism.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan is looking forward to commencing of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and the EU. He said that in the meanwhile Pakistan expects that with Britain’s support, it will be able to qualify for the revised GSP Plus scheme. He observed that these arrangements will greatly help Pakistan increase its exports, generate thousands of jobs and move towards economic stability.

He apprised the British Secretary of State that the reservations or certain provisions of Conventions against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have mostly been dropped by the government of Pakistan.

While referring to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan is actively participating in a Trilateral Core Group meetings comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. He said that both Pakistan and Afghanistan realize that their destinies are inter-linked and without stability and peace in Afghanistan, there can be no stability and peace in Pakistan. He hoped that there would be more clarity and strategic coherence among the Core Group for making the process a success.

The British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr. William Hague informed the Prime Minister that he had personally observed growing warmth, cordiality and trust in the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan during his visit to Kabul yesterday and his country welcomed the strengthening of ties between two neighbours. He stated that for UK, both neighbouring countries were the highest priority in its development assistance and hence UK is committed to remain a strong supporter of socio-economic development and peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan. He appreciated Pakistan’s constructive role for supporting Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. Mr. William Hague also underlined the need of trust and sincerity in taking the peace process forward.

He apprised the Prime Minister that his country is committed to support education sector as well as poverty alleviation in Pakistan in order to achieve Millennium Development Goals.

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs invited the Prime Minister on behalf of British Prime Minister for the next round of strategic dialogue between Pakistan and United Kingdom in April next year.

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