ISLAMABAD: Newly appointed British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, telephoned Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday and the two exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, concern and Pakistan–UK relations Recalling his meetings with the foreign minister in Islamabad, London and Manama, as shadow foreign secretary, Hague said that these meetings had helped them develop a good personal rapport, which should contribute towards further strengthening Pakistan-UK ties.
Hague said that Britain attached immense importance to its relations with Pakistan and congratulated the Government of Pakistan on the passage of the 18th amendment terming it as vital for long-term political stability. He said that Pakistan-UK relations were on the right track and with the establishment of the Pakistan-UK Foundation, bilateral ties should get a boost in all areas.
The UK foreign secretary commended British Pakistanis for their enormous contributions in Britain’s socio- economic progress, as well as in promoting ties between Pakistan and the UK. Regarding Afghanistan, Hague said that Afghanistan was one of the top most foreign policy priorities for the new UK Government and that he would be visiting Afghanistan soon to interact with UK troops there. Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan was committed to support an Afghanistanled reconciliation and reintegration process, adding that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s strategic interest.
Since the process of reconciliation and reintegration of the Taliban commenced, the international community has noticeably started acknowledging Pakistan’s role in this process. Qureshi invited Hague to visit Pakistan on mutually convenient dates. Hague said he was looking forward to visiting Pakistan in the second half of June this year.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Abdul Basit, while talking to The Express Tribune, said that “Pakistan in the war against terrorism has rendered more sacrifices than any other country. We welcome the new setup taking place in the UK and hope that Pakistan’s role will be appreciated.”
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.