The US and UK share ‘common goals in Pakistan and want to step up their cooperation with the militancy-infested country, new British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
Hague, who discussed with his US counterpart Hillary Clinton the situation in Pakistan, said the new British government has started parleys with the Obama Administration on ways to enhance and strengthen their cooperation with Islamabad.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran were the major issues of discussion between Clinton and Hague, who met her yesterday while on his first overseas trip as the British Foreign Secretary.
“We discussed the closely-related situation in Pakistan, where we and the United States share common goals and indeed have already started discussing ways to enhance and strengthen our cooperation and the support that we give to Pakistan,” Hague told reporters in a joint press availability with Clinton.
The first meeting between the two leaders, after the formation of the new British government on Wednesday, lasted more than an hour. Clinton had earlier met Hague last year when the latter was the shadow Foreign Secretary.
“Obviously, the United Kingdom has its own very strong relationship with Pakistan and traded some ideas on how we could work cooperatively, and also how the United Kingdom could have its own dialogue with Pakistan on issues of mutual concern, including security,” State Department spokesman, P J Crowley, told reporters at his daily press briefing later.
Both Clinton and Hague conceded that Afghanistan, however, was their top priority where the international community led by the US is engaged in a war against al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Asserting that the new British Government shares the United States’ perspective on Afghanistan, Hague said: “That is why we say we will give the time and support for the strategy in Afghanistan to succeed.”
Of course, the new administration in Britain will take stock of how it can best do that, he said. “And that includes enhancing and reinforcing the cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States at the highest level so we have a clear, shared perspective on what we are doing.”
Emerging out of the meeting, Clinton said the US and the United Kingdom are firmly committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and they support the efforts by the Afghan government to fight corruption and build a stable and secure country.
“We will continue our very close consultations on these matters going forward,” she said.