LONDON (AFP) - Britain is ready to help Pakistan overcome "real
difficulties" in tackling cross-border terrorism, Prime Minister
Tony Blair said as he welcomed his Pakistani counterpart to Downing Street.
Blair discussed a broad range of issues with Pakistani Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz before the two hopped in a limousine together to address a...
conference in London on ending poverty in Asia by 2015.
"Over the past few years, cooperation in the fight against terrorism --
and all the issues to do with cross border infiltration, that
cooperation has been a lot deeper than ever before," Blair told
"Look, there are certainly real difficulties that Pakistan faces. Now
obviously we want to work with Pakistan to overcome those differences."
Blair recalled that British troops are deploying in southern
adjacent to Pakistan's lawless northwest, where they will be under
Canadian command as part of the US-led multinational force in the
central Asian nation.
Pakistani forces clashed with rebels in the North Waziristan tribal
region bordering Afghanistan over the weekend, in the worst fighting in
the area since the Taliban regime in Kabul fell in late 2001.
"We have a mutual interest, the two countries (Britain and Pakistan),
in making sure that that (mission) works, as of course does Afghanistan
itself," said Blair with Aziz at his side.
"Of course, we will always be agitating for more to be done, and
naturally the Pakistani government will be pointing out all they are
doing. But one thing that stands out very clearly in today's world is
the common interest in fighting this extremism."
"It's not in Pakistan's interest to have an unstable Afghanistan next
door. It's not in Afghanistan's interest to have a bad relationship
with Pakistan. And we simply want the region to get the stability and
growth that it so obviously wants to see."
Aziz said Pakistan was "committed to ensuring an environment that is peaceful in the world and in our region".
"We are by the side of Britain in marshalling all resources to fight
the menace of terrorism, no matter where it is, because terrorism knows
no borders," he said.
"I think events have shown that Pakistan has done and made a great
contribution to promote peace in the world and to get it away from the
threat of terrorism."
On another issue, Blair said he was in favour of full democracy in Pakistan by next year -- a point US
President George W. Bush made in his trip to South Asia last week -- so long as it was managed properly.
"We all know that Pakistan has been through some very difficult times," he said.
"Over these past few years, it is fair to say it's economy has greatly
strengthened and grown and the cooperation that we're experiencing in
the global fight against terrorism is enormous."
"Of course, we want to see the situation move towards democracy ... but
it's got to be managed in a way that helps the stability of the