Gilani leaves for UK on five-day visit

Gilani leaves for UK on five-day visit

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today left for the UK on a five-day visit to participate in the first annual review of a bilateral Enhanced Strategic Dialogue and discuss the regional situation with the British leadership.

Talking to reporters before his departure at Chaklala military airbase in Rawalpindi, Gilani said the dialogue will focus on cooperation in investment, trade, culture, health and education.

He said he would meet his British counterpart David Cameron and discuss the regional
situation, including Afghanistan.

Gilani said the visit will provide him an opportunity to meet parliamentarians from the House of Lords and House of Commons and several cabinet members.

"Pakistan is keen to strengthen its trade ties with the UK with the objective of taking bilateral trade to 2.5 million pounds in two to three years," he said.

The premier was seen off by federal ministers, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wyne, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, naval chief Admiral Asif Sandila and senior officials.

Soon after the premier's departure, the Supreme Court issued its detailed order on Gilani’s conviction of contempt for refusing to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The order said Gilani faced possible disqualification following his conviction.

Gilani was accompanied by a delegation that included Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Foreign Minister Hina Khar and Commerce Minister Makhdoom Ameen Faheem will join Gilani in London.

Pakistan and Britain launched their Enhanced Strategic Dialogue in April last year during Cameron’s visit to Islamabad.

The dialogue covers trade, finance and development aid, education and health, culture, and defence and security.

Gilani chaired a high-level meeting on May 4 to discuss his visit to Britain.

During the visit, the premier will have in-depth interactions with members of the British cabinet, parliamentarians, prominent businessmen and the media.

Gilani will attend the state opening of parliament by Queen Elizabeth on May 9 and participate in a reception in honour of parliamentarians at the House of Commons.
Leader of Opposition Edmund Milliband will also call on the premier.

Gilani will travel to Birmingham and address the Pakistani community.

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