Gilani dismisses media report that said Karzai to dump US

Pakistan`s Prime Minister dismissed as "speculation" a media report that said his government is lobbying Afghan President Hamid Karzai to ditch the US.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani on Wednesday dismissed as "speculation" a media report
that said his government is lobbying Afghan President Hamid
Karzai to ditch the US in favour of Pakistan and China in
efforts to strike a peace deal with the Taliban.

Gilani made the remarks in the National Assembly or lower
house of parliament tonight while responding to points raised
by several opposition parliamentarians.

He said they should not believe in speculation and should
trust the government.

The Foreign Office too dismissed the `Wall Street
Journal` report in a statement, with spokesperson Tehmina
Janjua rejecting the "baseless assertions made in it".

Pakistan "recognizes the key role of the US in promoting
stability, peace and harmony in Afghanistan", she said.

"Pakistan fully supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned
process for peace and reconciliation.

This fundamental principle is now widely acknowledged,"
Janjua said.

A trilateral meeting of senior officials of Afghanistan,
Pakistan and the US will be held in Islamabad early next
month, she said.

"The purpose of ongoing engagements with Afghanistan and
the US is to have strategic coherence and clarity," she added.

The report in the paper quoted unnamed Afghan officials
as saying that Gilani had told Karzai during a meeting in
Kabul on April 16 that the Americans had failed them both.

Gilani lobbied Karzai against building a long-term
strategic partnership with the US and instead urged him to
look to Pakistan and China for help in striking a peace deal
with the Taliban and rebuilding Afghanistan?s economy, the
report said.

"Pakistan`s bid to cut the US out of Afghanistan`s future
is the clearest sign to date that, as the nearly 10-year war`s
endgame begins, tensions between Washington and Islamabad
threaten to scuttle America`s prospects of ending the conflict
on its own terms," the report said.

Gilani was accompanied by Pakistan`s powerful Army Chief
Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence
agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha during his visit to
Kabul earlier this month.



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