Hillary meets Zardari, discusses drone attacks

Pak says drone attacks undermine national consensus against war on militancy.

Islamabad: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed a host of issues, including the drone attacks that Pakistan says undermines national consensus against the war on militancy.

Hillary, who was leading a high level US delegation, met Zardari on Sunday evening.

Pakistani news agency APP reported that issues relating to the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the US, bilateral relations, regional situation, fight against militancy were discussed at the meeting.

Spokesperson for the President, Farhatullah Babar, said Zardari called for a focused and result oriented strategic dialogue. He said that issues relating to Pakistan’s energy needs were most important and needed to be dealt with urgently.

About the drone attacks on Pakistani territory, Zardari said it undermined the national consensus against the war on militancy. He reiterated the call for transfer of drone technology to it, for use by its own security forces against the militants for wider public acceptability.

The US has stepped up drone attacks in the tribal areas, mostly in North Waziristan, which is considered a bastion of militants attacking foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Babar quoted Zardari as saying that isolated incidents of militant acts should in no way be allowed to derail the dialogue for peace process.

Zardari said: "Our reaction has to be mature and not knee jerk to frustrate the designs of extremists."

He said Pakistan had suffered a huge loss of over USD 40 billion during the last eight years as a result of the fight against militancy besides unquantifiable cost in terms of social and human losses.

Zardari said terrorism was the common enemy and that the existing cooperation between the two countries must continue to fight the menace.

On energy needs, he said: "We are keen to meet the energy challenge head on and pursue policies of public-private partnership to promote investment and production to create jobs and wean away the frustrated youth from resorting to extremism."

Hillary said that Washington was conscious of the need to create economic opportunity for the Pakistani people in their fight against militancy.

She reiterated the commitment of the US to support the people of Pakistan to strengthening of democratic institutions for promoting stability and investment in energy, education and social sector.


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