‘Australia keen to see positive development in strained US, Pakistan relations’


Pakistan is key player in the war on terror and Australia is keen to see some positive development in strained relations between Islamabad and Washington over reopening of NATO supply routes issues, Australian High Commissioner Tim George said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, he said, “It is very good development that President Asif Ali Zardari has been invited to attend Chicago conference – while Islamabad is also considering reopening NATO supply routes.”
George, whose three-year term comes to an end shortly, said, “We do understand the feeling of people over the Salala checkpost incident.” However, he said now both countries had almost settled the issue. The ambassador also praised Pakistan’s role in war on terror. He said he was privileged to serve as high commissioner during a period of strong growth in Australia’s relationship with Pakistan. The ambassador said, “I particularly welcome the deepening of our engagement, which is based on a productive, friendly and mutually beneficial partnership. Areas I would highlight include development cooperation, defence cooperation, collaboration in tackling transnational crime, education and other people-to-people links, and closer collaboration in the trade and investment sphere. We see Pakistan as a valuable long-term partner. We also wish to support Pakistan in facing its significant challenges.”
George said he was very pleased at the expansion of high-level links and dialogue between the two countries. He welcomed Pakistan’s valuable participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in 2011, the revival of senior officials’ talks between foreign ministries and of the joint trade committee, and good progress towards cementing much closer parliamentary ties.
Australia’s development assistance to Pakistan has expanded significantly in the recent years to an estimated A$96 million in 2012-13. The signing of the Australia Pakistan Development Partnership (APDP) was an important milestone, providing a positive framework for our long term bilateral development cooperation. Australia has also been a major contributor of humanitarian assistance in time of crisis. Cooperation between Australia and Pakistan in combating terrorism and transnational organised crime has expanded substantially. A landmark development has been the establishment in 2010 of the high-level Pakistan-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Border Management and Transnational Crime, which meets annually. George said he appreciated deeply Pakistan’s excellent cooperation on these issues.