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British foreign secretary meets Musharraf


Islamabad : British Foreign Secretary David Miliband met Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Thursday to discuss a gamut of issues including the growing militancy in the country's north-west tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Miliband, who at the age of 42 is the youngest to take the post in the last three decades, arrived in Islamabad late Wednesday as part of his maiden visit to the region since the cabinet of new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was sworn in last month.

He praised Musharraf for efforts being made by the Pakistani government to combat growing terrorism and extremism, the private Aaj television channel reported.

Musharraf told Miliband that the battle against extremists was in the country's own interests, and said its forces had suffered high casualties in the fight.

Describing Pakistan as an "important ally" of Britain, Miliband reiterated his government's desire to further the relationship between the two countries.

"It is a simple fact – we are two nations tied together by history and values, by the challenges we face and, crucially, by the future we will face together," a statement issued earlier by the British High Commission in Islamabad quoted him as saying.

"This mutual interest is highlighted by our two countries working together in a range of areas including countering drugs, tackling climate change, countering terrorism and ensuring security for the region," it added.

Miliband is due to hold delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri here, besides attending a workshop on active citizenship being run by the British Council, and addressing the Pakistan Youth Parliament.