UK PM Johnson discusses trade, Ukraine, Afghanistan with Pakistan PM Sharif

London, May 31 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif for the first time since the latter’s election last month to discuss a range of topics, including bilateral trade and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Downing Street said the call between the leaders on Monday evening focussed on regional and international affairs, including the role of a new UK Trade Envoy to Pakistan Conservative member of Parliament Mark Eastwood appointed last year.

Johnson also thanked Pakistan for help in relocating Afghans to the UK after the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

Welcoming the United Kingdom and Pakistan’s strong partnership over the past 75 years, the Prime Minister said the relationship is incarnated in the close ties between our people, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a readout of the call.

They agreed to strengthen those ties further and boost trade and investment, with the Prime Minister highlighting the appointment of a new UK Trade Envoy to Pakistan to drive those efforts, the spokesperson said.

The readout added: On international affairs, Prime Minister Sharif recognised the UK’s efforts to address the crisis in Ukraine, and the leaders agreed on the importance of ending the immense human suffering and global economic instability caused by the invasion.

The Prime Minister thanked Pakistan for their help in relocating Afghans to the UK after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The leaders welcomed ongoing cooperation and committed to work together to support a more peaceful and tolerant Afghanistan, noting the importance of ensuring girls can go to school.

“Thank you Prime Minister. It was great speaking to you about a range of issues that define our excellent bilateral relations,” Sharif tweeted.

“My government is keen to further deepen ties with the UK through renewed cooperation in areas like trade, commerce, culture, investment & energy,” the Pakistan prime minister wrote on Twitter.

Sharif is said to have passed on his congratulations on Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations this weekend.

The leaders looked forward to meeting in person in the near future, Downing Street said.

PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif took office in April this year after a no-confidence motion against former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.