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UK police, not govt, to decide on Altaf Hussain: Hague

18 July, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday said that matters relating to the MQM chief Altaf Hussain would be decided by the police.

He was responding to a question about the statements of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, during a joint press conference with Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz following their comprehensive talks here. The two leaders said they had agreed to enhance cooperation in a number of areas, including trade and commerce, and to counter terrorism.

The British foreign secretary, who arrived here on Wednesday for a two-day visit to Pakistan, declared the UK's firm support to Pakistan in meeting economic and social challenges.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had an ambitious plan of enhancing growth‚ creating jobs and alleviating poverty and his country would continue to play a leading role in supporting Pakistan in this endeavour.

He assured that the UK would extend all assistance to boost Pakistan's economy, adding that the UK wanted to strengthen its ties with Pakistan. "We want Pak-India ties to continue to improve," Hague mentioned.

Hague said the British prime minister during his recent visit clearly indicated that a "friend of Pakistan is our friend". He said the close friendship between our countries would bring benefits to the people of the two countries. He said there were many areas of cooperation between the two countries, especially in energy‚ trade and commerce.

Congratulating the Pakistani government and people of Pakistan on the smooth transfer of power and successful conduct of elections‚ he hoped that democracy would be strengthened and prosper in Pakistan. He said the Pakistani people gave a clear message for continuity of democracy by taking full part in elections.

Hague acknowledged the sacrifices made by the Pakistani people in the war against terrorism‚ saying they continued to reject the terrorists' violence and intimidation. He said the United Kingdom would work in partnership with Pakistan providing expertise and support to Pakistan in developing a strategy of counter terrorism.

On Afghanistan‚ he said good relations with Pakistan's neighbour were vital to security and the UK and Pakistan agreed on the importance of peace‚ stability and security in Afghanistan and supported the Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process.

He said the relations with Pakistan were very important for progress and prosperity of our both countries.The British foreign secretary told a questioner that the requirement of Pakistani visitors to the UK to carry 3,000 pounds was just an idea, but even if approved, it would not be for the ordinary visitors but for those who violated the immigration rules.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan and the UK enjoyed close relations and were good development partners. He said, "We want to expand our relationship for the mutual benefit of both the countries."

He said the two sides exchanged views on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations with focus on economic and trade. He said the Pakistan-UK trade had reached about three billion dollars and they had a target to take it to five billion dollars. He lauded the UK's investment in Pakistan and said it was their endeavour to expand both investment and trade.

Sartaj Aziz appreciated the support of the UK in Pakistan's quest for more access to the European Union market.

He said Pakistan wanted inclusion in the GSP Plus for the purpose and it welcomed the UK's strong support in this regard. He said Pakistan and the UK would hold the second round of enhanced strategic dialogue later this year encompassing the entire range of security, political and economic issues.

The adviser on foreign affairs said he would be visiting Kabul on Saturday for talks with the Afghan leadership and hoped that his visit would pave the way for President Karzai's visit to Pakistan.

To a question, he said the closure of Doha office by the Taliban was a temporary phenomenon and hoped that it would reopen when difficulties with respect to flag and name of the office were overcome. He said Pakistan supported an Afghan-owned peace process and stability in Afghanistan was in our own interest.

To another question, he said the reports of Taliban moving to Syria were being looked into but firmly stated that the Government of Pakistan or its institutions had nothing to do, even if such a movement had taken place.

About the presidential elections and prospects of his candidature, Sartaj Aziz said there were five or six candidates and it was the prerogative of the party leadership to decide about the final candidate.

End.

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