Pak-US ties on new pedestal
Satisfied With Talks’ Success: Gilani
Washington, Mar 25: The US and Pakistan declared “a new day” for relations between the allies in the war on terror after the first ministerial-level strategic talks.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Mahmood Shah Qureshi hailed as groundbreaking the Washington talks in which the US promised $US125 million ($137m) to improve Pakistan’s struggling power grid, as well as funding for new road projects. Clinton said the US would partner Pakistan in a “full range of matters” beyond security, including energy, development, education and agriculture, even as she acknowledged potential future road-bumps.
“It is the start of something new. Our countries have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or family members,” she said. “But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.”
At the end of the first of two days of high-level talks, Clinton and Qureshi announced that the US-Pakistan relationship had evolved into a partnership covering a range of security and development programmes.
Qureshi pointed to progress made during the talks, saying after the meeting: “Today, I am a happy man, a satisfied man. We have upgraded the dialogue. There were no more question marks, there was no suspicion, there was no ‘do more’. There was appreciation for what we had already done,” he said.
Qureshi said he expected the US to pay by the end of June nearly $2bn in military aid it owes Pakistan. He said a “substantial” amount of the outstanding military aid would be paid by the end of April, with the remainder coming by the end of June - the same time as an IMF performance review is due on its $7.6bn loan package for Pakistan.
He also said the US had agreed to put Pakistani requests for military equipment on a “fast track” as they increased security co-operation and that US officials were no longer questioning whether his country was two-faced in its fight against extremism.
“It’s a 180-degree difference,” he told a joint news conference with Clinton.
The Pakistani foreign minister said he hopes for continued US “constructive engagement” on Kashmir.
Pakistan’s army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani and the head of the ISI intelligence agency Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha are also taking part in the US-Pak strategic dialogue.
The two sides continued their talks for the second day Thursday.
GKNN adds from Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said he would take the nation into confidence after the strategic dialogue with the United States ends, focusing on economy, energy and social sector.
Talking to reporters after inaugurating a bridge at the Islamabad Expressway over river Soan and western section of the Service Road, the Prime Minister termed the talks a “success” and said deliberations of the Pak-US working groups were continuing. Gilani said during dialogue, Pakistan would particularly focus on energy crisis in the country and seek assistance on meeting country’s growing power requirements.
Regarding close Indo-US ties and its impact on the dialogue, Gilani said Pakistan desired regional stability and better ties with all its neighbours including India.
He said the US has good relations with India, and hoped that these would not have any impact on the dialogue and added Pakistan’s focus was on war against terror.
About the water issue with India, Gilani said Pakistan had taken up the matter at diplomatic level and progress had been made in this regard.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 26 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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