UK declares its firm support to Pakistan in meeting economic and social challenges

UK declares its firm support to Pakistan in meeting economic and social challenges

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): The United Kingdom has declared its firm support to Pakistan in meeting economic and social challenges.

The announcement was made by visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague during a joint press stake out with Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz following heir comprehensive talks in Islamabad here on Wednesday.

The two leaders said they have agreed to enhance cooperation in a umber of areas including trade and commerce and to counter terrorism.

British Foreign Secretary pointed out that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has an ambitious plan of enhancing growth, creating jobs and alleviating poverty and his country would continue to play a leading role in supporting Pakistan in this endeavour.

William Hague said British Prime Minister during his recent visit clearly indicated that friend of Pakistan is our friend. He said close friendship between our countries will bring benefits to the people of the two countries. He said there are many areas of cooperation between the two countries especially in energy, trade and commerce.

Congratulating the Pakistani government and people of Pakistan on smooth transfer of power and successful conduct of elections, he hoped that democracy will further strengthen and prosper in Pakistan. He said Pakistani people gave a clear message of the continuity of democracy by taking full part in elections.

William Hague acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistani people in the war against terrorism, saying they continue to reject terrorist violence and intimidation. He said the United Kingdom will work in partnership with Pakistan providing expertise, and support of Pakistan in developing strategy of counter terrorism.

On Afghanistan, he said, good relations with Pakistan’s neighbor are key to security and UK and Pakistan agree on importance of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and support Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process. He said relation with Pakistan is very important for progress and prosperity of our both countries.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan and UK enjoy close relations and are good development partners. He said we want to expand our relationship further for the mutual benefit of both countries.

He said the two sides exchanged views on entire spectrum of bilateral relations with focus on economic and trade. He said Pakistan-UK trade has reached about three billion dollars and they have a target to take it to five billion dollars. He lauded UK’s investment in Pakistan and said it is their endeavour to expand both investment and trade. He appreciated the support of UK in Pakistan’s quest for more access to EU market. He said Pakistan wants inclusion in GSP Plus for the purpose and it welcomes UK’s strong support in this regard.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan and UK would hold second round of enhanced strategic dialogue later this year encompassing entire range of security, political and economic issues.

The Advisor on Foreign Affairs said he would be visiting Kabul on Saturday for talks with Afghan leadership and hoped that his visit would pave the way for President Karzai’s visit to Pakistan.

To a question he said closure of Doha office by Taliban is a temporary phenomenon and hoped that it would reopen when difficulties in respect of flag and name of the office are overcome. He said Pakistan supports an Afghan-owned peace process and stability in Afghanistan is in our own interest.

To another question he said facts about reports of Taliban moving to Syria are being looked into but firmly stated that the Government of Pakistan or its institutions have nothing to do even if such a movement has taken place.

About presidential elections and prospects of his candidature, Sartaj Aziz said there are five or six candidates and it is prerogative of the party leadership to decide about the final candidate.

The British Foreign Secretary told a questioner that the requirement of Pakistani visitors to UK to carry three thousand pounds is just an idea but even if approved it would not be for ordinary visitors but for those who violate immigration rules.

To another about statements of MQM Chief Altaf Hussain, the British Foreign Secretary said these are matters for police to decide.

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