‘Awaiting Parl`s nod for re-engaging with US’

Relations between Pakistan and the US are "multi-dimensional and important" but "2011 was a challenging year", Zardari said.

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is
awaiting Parliament`s recommendations for re-engaging with the
US after a "challenging year" in bilateral relations,
President Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday.

Relations between Pakistan and the US are
"multi-dimensional and important" but "2011 was a challenging
year", Zardari said during an address to a joint session of

"We seek to engage meaningfully with the US on the basis
of mutual interest and mutual respect.

"We are looking forward to (parliament`s) recommendations
for re-engaging with the United States," he said in a speech
that outlined his government`s policies, including foreign
policy priorities, for the final year of its five-year term.

Ties between Pakistan and the US were affected by several
crises last year, including the gunning down of two Pakistani
men by CIA contractor Raymond Davis and the killing of al
Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a raid by US special forces in
the garrison town of Abbottabad.

After a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani
soldiers in November, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought
a parliamentary review of ties with the US and NATO.

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security`s
recommendations for new "terms of engagement" with the US will
be taken up at a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament
on March 19.

In his speech, Zardari noted that "Parliamentary oversight
and democratic accountability" had become a "new and important
facet of foreign policy".

He added: "We are committed to maintain our bilateral
relations with all on the principles of mutual respect for
each other`s sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality".

Referring to the reconciliation efforts in neighbouring
Afghanistan, Zardari said Pakistan would "fully support an
Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process" in the war-torn

"The government has signed the Pakistan-Afghanistan
transit trade agreement which will open up our trade with
Central Asian countries with whom we have historical ties," he

Zardari also referred to Pakistan`s "unique relationship"
with China, which is "deeply rooted and mutually beneficial".
He said his eight visits to China were a "manifestation of
taking this relationship to new heights".

Pakistan`s relations with the European Union have expanded
and deepened, and Islamabad was grateful for the EU initiative
on tariff concessions to help the country cope with the
devastating floods of 2010, he said.

Zardari said Pakistan also attaches importance to its
relations with Russia.

Prime Minister Gilani and he had undertaken several visits
to Russia to "inject new dynamism to our relationship", he


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