Aus will not take sides


Islamabad: Australia today said it does not want to take sides on disputes like Kashmir issue and asked India and Pakistan to bilaterally resolve their differences through peaceful means. 

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who arrived here on a two-day official visit to discuss issues of mutual interest and strengthen relationship, met Pakistan’s adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz. 

She said Australia does not want to take sides on disputes like Kashmir between Pakistan and India, and the two sides should “resolve their disputes bilaterally” through peaceful means. 

When asked about Australian-India civil nuclear cooperation, she said her country was a power house and wanted to export energy to the world. She said currently both Australia and India are negotiating the deal. 

She, however, said her country will extend the facility to India under strict controls. 

Bishop highlighted importance of ties with Pakistan and pledged to provide USD 24 million in financial assistance, including USD 10 million for the rehabilitation of people displaced due to military operations. 

She said Australia would closely cooperate with Pakistan to counter extremism and militancy. 

She announced to hold a summit on counter-terrorism in June. 

Aziz said Pakistan wanted to improve trade and economic ties with Australia. 

He said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to visit Australia later this year to further improve relations. 

Radio Pakistan reported that Pakistan asked Australia to provide greater market access to its products in the Australian market. 

Earlier, on her arrival Bishop said, “My visit and meeting with Pakistani leaders is aimed at discussing the growing strength of our bilateral partnership and important regional and international issues.” 

She will also meet Prime Minister Sharif to discuss political relations and also hold talks with army chief General Raheel Sharif on security and defence cooperation. 

Bishop would address a forum on women empowerment and gender equality. She will visit Lahore tomorrow and meet Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. 

She is also scheduled to inaugurate a project funded by the Australian government. 

According to Foreign Office, Pakistan and Australia will explore the possibilities of further strengthening the existing ties, especially in trade, investment, agriculture, education, sports and defence.

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