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Zardari, Cameron pledge to enhance strategic, cooperative ties

September 26, 2012


British Prime Minister David Cameron. — File Photo by Reuters

NEW YORK: The leadership of Pakistan and United Kingdom on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance strategic and co-operative ties between the two countries based on shared interests and mutual respect.

President Asif Ali Zardari and British Prime Minister David Cameron met on the sidelines of the 67th annual Session of United Nations General Assembly and discussed host of issues including bilateral relations, Pak-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue, trade access to EU markets for Pakistani products, fight against militancy and regional situation.

The president expressed satisfaction on the progress made during First Annual Summit Level Review of Pak-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) in May 2012, and termed the dialogue a manifestation of the resolve on both sides to comprehensively upgrade relations.

He reiterated Pakistan's desire to have a multifaceted and deep engagement with the UK on various issues, based on sovereign equality, mutual trust and respect and mutual interest.

The president appreciated UK government's support for Pakistan in the EU in getting autonomous trade preferences during floods 2010 and sought UK support for early completion of the EU's internal process.

Terming UK's advocacy of Pakistan's case for market access to the EU extremely valuable, the president emphasized on inclusion of Pakistan in the GSP+ scheme by 2014.

Appreciating UK Development Assistance, Zardari said that the 650 million pound British assistance for promotion of education would go a long way to address the challenges of extremism and militancy besides creating a conducive environment to facilitate education in Pakistan.

He hailed the role and contribution of DFID (Department for International Development) in education sector through various initiatives and welcomed increase in size and scope of DFID programme, especially in Balochistan.

President Zardari also appreciated increased UK support to Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), which not only provides sustenance but also empowers poor women and alleviate the suffering of flood victims.

Discussing Afghanistan situation, the president appreciated the constructive role being played by the United Kingdom. He welcomed the British commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and hoped that UK would support Pakistan in sensitizing the international community for repatriation of over three million Afghan refugees to their homeland.

Prime Minister Cameron said that UK would continue its support of the democratic dispensation in Pakistan and assured Britain's continued assistance and cooperation in curbing militancy, trade access to EU markets and in fields of investment and education.

Those who were present during the meeting included Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Secretary General M. Salman Faruqui, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Ambassador Masood Khan.

Prime Minister Cameron was assisted by Foreign Minister William Hague, Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn, National Security Advisor Kim Darroch and Mark Sedwill.