Britain supports Pakistan-India dialogue process: Miliband

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Islamabad, Nov 26 (UNI) British Foreign Secretary David Miliband pledged to encourage closer interaction between Pakistan and India, as he met Pakistani leaders here today.

Mr Miliband, who arrived last night, held formal talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi and called on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Mr Qureshi briefed him on the composite dialogue process with India and Islamabad's efforts to improve relations all around, a Foreign Ministry statement said after the talks.

Mr Qureshi also underlined that the important issue of water sharing must be resolved quickly under the Indus Basin Treaty.

''The British Foreign Minister stated that Britain was desirous and would encourage closer interaction between the two countries,'' the statement added.

The Foreign Minister underlined the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with the European Union (EU) and the need for the EU to give greater market access to Pakistani goods, with which the British minister agreed.

Pakistan and Britain's traditionally friendly relations are rooted in a long historical association.

Britain is also Pakistan's largest trading partner and the second largest foreign investor among the EU countries. Pakistan is also a recipient of Britain's development assistance of 480 million euros for the years 2008-2011.

''The presence of around one million Pakistanis reinforces the relationship,'' the statement said.

Britain was the first European country that established contacts with the newly-elected government in Pakistan, when a number of Ministerial visits took place from that country to reaffirm its commitment and support to Pakistan.

Mr Miliband, who is coming from Afghanistan, briefed Mr Qureshi on his visit.

The British Foreign Secretary underscored that greater world attention was now on Pakistan as an important player not just in the fight against terrorism but also in the regional, economic and security context.

Mr Qureshi stated that there was greater coordination and trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan governments and a number of meetings and events had taken place.

Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been beset with a history of mistrust over their efforts to combat Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants under the aegis of the US-led ''war on terror''.

Mr Qureshi stressed particularly on the issues of governance and drugs control in Afghanistan.


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