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Pakistan hopes for Commonwealth

21 April, 2008

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ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Monday that he expected the Commonwealth to readmit his country next month, as Britain gave its firm backing for the move.

The 53-nation group of former British colonies suspended Pakistan's membership for the second time in November after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency.

Since November Pakistan has gone through a democratic transition and a new government has taken power following February 18 general elections in which Musharraf's allies were trounced.

The new coalition has vowed to reinstate judges and undo the harsh media laws imposed by Musharraf under emergency rule.

"There is a CMAG (Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) meeting... on 12th of May and I am expecting a very positive outcome," Qureshi told a joint news conference with his British counterpart, David Miliband.

Qureshi said that he briefed Miliband about the recent visit of the Malaysian foreign minister, who is also the acting chair at CMAG, when the matter of Commonwealth membership came up during the talks.

Miliband said that he supported Pakistan's re-entry into the organisation.

"I want Britain to be a leading voice calling for Pakistan's re-entry into the Commonwealth's family," he said.

Miliband was on a two-day official visit to Pakistan and has held talks with the country's leadership on dealing with the problem of militancy in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

End.

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