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Don't intend to lecture India, Pak on ties: Hague

British Foreign Secretary William Hague today sought to strike a delicate balance in his country's ties with India and Pakistan, saying the UK would welcome better relations between the two countries but would not "lecture" them on how to resolve bilateral problems.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2010 20:19 IST

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday sought to strike a delicate balance in his country's ties with India and Pakistan, saying the UK would welcome better relations between the two countries but would not "lecture" them on how to resolve bilateral problems.

Hague, who is on his first visit to Islamabad for talks with the Pakistani leadership, said the new British government is working to elevate relations with fast growing economies like India.

At the same time, Britain desires an "equally strong relationship" with Pakistan, he said.

"We will be sufficiently strong friends with India and Pakistan not to tell them how to resolve their bilateral problems and not to lecture them about those issues.

"So it is not for the UK to lay down solutions for them," Hague told a news conference he addressed along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Hague, who is on a three-day visit here, was responding to a question on whether Britain would play a role in resolving differences between India and Pakistan on the sharing of river waters.

The new British government, he said, is working to elevate its relationship with many countries outside Europe and North America due to the changing world economy.

"Yes, India is one of those countries but we want an equally strong relationship with Pakistan... That's why I have come to Pakistan as one of my first goals as the new Foreign Secretary is to emphasise that improvement in bilateral relationships, that improvement in broadening relations over the long-term applies to Pakistan as well," Hague said.

The new British government's stand on ties with India does not "in any way contradict what we have said about Pakistan because we welcome improvement in relations between" the two countries, he added.

Hague's predecessor David Miliband had become a centre of a diplomatic row between India and Britain after he suggested that the Kashmir issue was at the root of terror attacks like the one in Mumbai.

In an article last year, Miliband wrote: "Resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms".

India was upset by the suggestion and had registered a protest with Britain.

Hague's remarks that his government intends to stay out of Indo-Pak matters is an indication that the new dispensation would be careful not to stir another such diplomatic row.