ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Kingdom agreed on Friday to enhance bilateral strategic relations.
A joint statement issued after a meeting in London between Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the two sides reviewed progress on bilateral commitments and discussed future plans to develop a deeper dialogue, strengthen friendship and promote mutual interests.
Mr Aziz and Mr Hague discussed priority areas of bilateral relationship, including renewing commitment to increase trade to three billion pounds by 2015, enhancing Pakistan’s EU trade access recently secured with the UK support and Britain’s commitment to stand alongside Pakistan to tackle militancy, terrorism and extremism while acknowledging huge sacrifices made by the Pakistani nation.
The two sides agreed to review the whole spectrum of the enhanced strategic dialogue during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s forthcoming visit to the UK.
After the meeting, Mr Hague said Pakistan and the UK shared longstanding ties and he was pleased to have this opportunity to discuss plans to reframe the strategic dialogue into a deeper and more focused agreement between the two countries, which strengthens “our partnership and promotes our mutual interests”.
This dialogue represented a continuing, long-term commitment by both countries to work together to create conditions necessary for greater security and prosperity, he added.
Sartaj Aziz emphasised the importance of greater international recognition of Pakistan’s security concerns and said it was agreed to intensify efforts to achieve meaningful and mutually beneficial progress in a holistic manner under the framework of the enhanced strategic dialogue.
The dialogue was signed in 2011 and set out the UK and Pakistan’s strategic partnership in five areas, including trade and business relations; financial, macro-economic stabilisation and development cooperation; education and health; consultations on defence and security; and cultural cooperation.—APP