Pakistan Hopes for Normalization of Ties with Britain
Pakistan said Friday it hoped the visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair would result in the "complete" normalization of bilateral ties, ruptured after the October 1999 military coup.
Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan said relations between London and Islamabad had already shown signs of improvement before the current crisis triggered by the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
"Now we hope with this visit by the British prime minister that the relationship and cooperation between the two countries will return to complete normality," Khan said.
Blair was due to arrive in Islamabad later Friday for talks with President Pervez Musharraf ahead of expected US military strikes on Afghanistan.
He will be the first Western leader to visit Pakistan since last month's attacks in the United States, underlining the crucial importance of Islamabad's cooperation with any military action.
London's relations with Islamabad nose-dived after Pakistan's nuclear tests in May 1998. They were clouded further by the military coup that brought General Musharraf to power two years ago.
Britain fiercely condemned the coup and spearheaded the move to have Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth's council of ministers.
That all changed when Pakistan emerged as a key ally in the international coalition against terrorism and promised to back military action against its former Taliban allies in neighboring Afghanistan.
Khan said he believed the purpose of Blair's visit was "first and foremost to show solidarity with Pakistan."
He also said he was unaware of "any special message" Blair might be bringing for Musharraf -- ISLAMABAD (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)