The new British government on Wednesday said it views Pakistan as a long term strategic partner and desires “deeper” and “stronger” bilateral ties in all areas. The British Foreign Secretary who is here on a three-day official visit also vowed to deepen the “strategic dialogue” with Pakistan, besides increasing its development assistance to 665 million pounds over a period of four years. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague at a joint press conference following their meeting said they reviewed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. Foreign Minister Qureshi described the talks as productive and said both the sides decided to carry forward the process and expand the areas of cooperation. The British foreign secretary said his new government was committed to “a long term productive friendship with Pakistan” and would put in a new momentum. He also spoke high of the around one million Pakistani-born diaspora in the UK and said the two sides discussed the issue of visas and other matters. He paid rich tributes to the “sacrifices” and the resilience shown by the Pakistani people in fighting extremism and terrorism. “I salute the efforts of Pakistan in fighting extremism and terrorism.” He acknowledged the enormous sacrifices made by Pakistan and the thousands of casualties at the hands of extremists and violent incidents. To a question regarding Britain's ties with India and their possible impact on Pakistan, William Hague said he was in Pakistan to emphasise that there was a vast potential of improvement and broadening of bilateral relations between the two countries. He said Britain has relations with many countries and these do not impact ties with others. He however said that Britain would not like to lecture either India or Pakistan on how to resolve contentious issues such as the water dispute as he believed that both the countries have the ability to resolve them on their own. Foreign Minister Qureshi said he would take up the matter when he meets his Indian counterpart in Islamabad. Regarding the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline he said Britain would not interfere in any sovereign decision of Pakistan. He however said that his country supports the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iran. Foreign Minister Qureshi said the Prime Minister has explained his position which clearly states that Pakistan was a responsible country and was aware of its international obligations. He said Pakistan needed energy for power generation and was working on a multi-pronged strategy to address the shortfall, with the assistance of Friends of Democratic Pakistan, the EU and China, and will take a decision keeping in view all these matters.
By: Dawn News

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