PM to visit UK for summit level meeting: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will be visiting the United Kingdom for a summit level meeting later this month and would hold discussion with his British counterpart on the ways and means to boost trade between the two countries.

This was stated by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz while speaking as chief guest at a reception hosted by British High Commissioner to Islamabad Philip Barton here Tuesday to mark the 88th birthday of Queen Elizabeth 11.

Sartaj Aziz said the annual bilateral trade between Pakistan and UK has already gone up from Pounds 1.6 billion to Pounds 2.3 billion and the two sides were targetting to take it to Pounds 3 billion during the current fiscal year.

He said the British entrepreneurs have been making very useful investments in Pakistan, that would help further strengthen the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Besides, the two countries were also working to promote relations in the areas of arts, culture and music as well, the Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs added.

The British High Commissioner in his remarks on the occasion praised Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against extremism and said  Britain stood behind it in its drive against “the evil of terrorism.”

“These continue to be challenging times for Pakistan and we pay tribute to its people who have sacrificed so much. The UK stands behind Pakistan and its people as it tackles the evil of terrorism,” he said.

The event was attended by around 1,000 guests and representatives of political parties, the military, and members of the diplomatic corps, civil society, the media and business. 2014 marks the 62th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, when she became both the British Sovereign and the Head of the Commonwealth.

The national anthems of both countries were played to mark this important occasion.

Pakistan came into being only shortly before Her Majesty became Queen and the “enduring partnership” two countries has taken shape during her reign. “It is a partnership that is set to become even more important as we continue to work together for the mutual prosperity and security of both our countries,” said Barton.

The UK has a very deep and broad relationship with Pakistan, from sporting and cultural links to education and business ties. Trade is central to our relationship. We are also investing heavily in Pakistan’s education sector, with a particular focus on girls’ education.

Around one hundred thousand Pakistani students take British exams organized by the British Council every year, providing Pakistani young people with internationally recognized qualifications. By 2015, UK aid will help benefit four million children in school.

“Our two countries are longstanding partners and have a long history. But our connections are as much about the present and the future – the one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study or, simply for enjoyment,” said the British envoy.