ISLAMABAD - The months-long standoff on reopening of Nato supplies figured high Tuesday in talks between the visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
He said he raised the issue in his meetings with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, and hoped that both sides would find a solution.
“We look to the United States and Pakistan to work together to resolve the issue and of greater concern to us, even than those lines of communication, would be a rift between the Washington and Islamabad,” the British dignitary said.
He said UK and Pakistan were committed to enduring partnership and he discussed host of issues with his Pakistani counterpart that included economic development, strengthening of democracy, next general elections and regional security including Afghanistan.
He, however, rejected the impression that he had come to Islamabad to mediate between Pakistan and the US on the supply route, adding that both countries had the capacity and ability to sort out their issues.
Hague said UK was looking forward to see the government hold free, fair and transparent elections to strengthen democratic process in Pakistan.
To a question, Hina Rabbani Khar expressed her optimism that Pakistan and the US would soon resolve issues including reopening of Nato supply routes into Afghanistan.
She said Pakistan had the highest stake in the peace and stability of Afghanistan and it would continue to play the role of a facilitator and supporter to achieve those objectives for peace in the region.
She said Pakistan government had to keep in mind the parliamentary recommendations in talks with the US in order to define new rules of engagement for enduring relations between the two countries.
In her opening remarks she said this was the first high-level meeting between the two sides since Prime Minister Gilani’s visit to the UK in May last to hold the first summit review meeting on the enhanced strategic dialogue (ESD) between Pakistan and the UK.
The two foreign ministers underlined the importance of exploring ways and means to further enhance the existing multifaceted partnership.
They discussed implementation of a roadmap on ‘trade and investment’ envisaging the bilateral trade to increase to £2.5 billion by the year 2015.
Secretary Hague reaffirmed UK’s support to Pakistan’s request for inclusion in GSP Plus, and for the passage of the EU Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATPs). Khar expressed appreciation for UK development assistance of £1.4 billion over four years (2011-2015) in various sectors especially primary education.
The foreign ministers also recognised the importance of one million-strong Pakistan community who had contributed to the UK economy, politics and society.
They also exchanged views on regional and international issues, including Afghanistan. Khar underlined the importance of the sustained commitment of the international community during the transition phase in Afghanistan. The two sides agreed to continue to work closely in this regard.
Khar extended an invitation to Secretary Hague to visit Islamabad for the second review of the enhanced strategic dialogue.
Hague who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan also called on the president, the prime minister and held consultations with his counterpart Hina Khar. The president noted with satisfaction the growing understanding between the two countries and expressed appreciation for UK’s advocacy of Pakistan at international fora. The prime minister recalled his successful visit to the UK and held discussions with Secretary Hague on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.
He would also meet Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, PML-N chief Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and PTI chief Imran Khan.