Pak-UK launch 'strategic dialogue'; UK says ties unbreakable



Pak-UK launch `strategic dialogue`; UK says ties unbreakable Islamabad: Pakistan and Britain on Tuesday formally launched an "enhanced strategic dialogue" aimed at strengthening their cooperation in key areas like security, the war on terrorism, trade, health and education.

Addressing a news conference with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, British Prime Minister David Cameron described bilateral relations as "unbreakable" and said that the two sides had agreed on boosting cooperation in police services and intelligence-sharing.

Pakistan and Britain also agreed on the need to have a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan, said Cameron, who is on a day-long visit to Pakistan at Gilani's invitation.

"We will work with our friends in Pakistan to fight terrorism," he added.

Gilani said he had "useful discussions" with Cameron on a range of issues, including security, efforts to counter terrorism, health and education.

He said he briefed Cameron about his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Mohali on March 30 and the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue process.

Cameron said Britain had launched a new package to help Pakistan in imparting education to four million children and training to 90,000 teachers.

"Putting money in health and education is an investment to make Pakistan a trading success and a skill success," he said.

Describing illiteracy as a root cause of terrorism, Gilani said the focus was on improving education in Pakistan's tribal and remote areas.

He said over 30,000 Pakistani students were in Britain for education and called on Cameron to provide more scholarships.

Answering a question about the arrest warrant issued by a Pakistani court for former president Pervez Musharraf in connection with former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Cameron said the two countries did not have any extradition treaty and a "proper application" was needed to proceed in this regard.

The Pakistani anti-terror court issued the warrant for Musharraf, currently living in self-exile in Britain, after investigators declared him an "absconder" and said he was not cooperating in the probe into the investigation.

In response to another question, Cameron said no restrictions had been imposed on issuing visas to Pakistanis though the issuance of visas to students is being streamlined as a number of them had violated rules and overstayed in Britain.

Gilani said both countries had launched a comprehensive strategic dialogue in the hope that it will go a long way in strengthening bilateral ties.

They also agreed to increase bilateral trade from 1.2 billion pounds to 2.5 billion pounds by 2015, he said.

PTI