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NATO, Pakistan seek to boost non-military ties

Last Updated: Friday, June 4, 2010 - 21:24

Brussels: NATO and Pakistani leaders agreed on Friday on the need to strengthen their political ties, even as they face an increasingly bloody military struggle with al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Measures could include high level exchanges and
parliamentary visits, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani said after meeting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen at the alliance`s Brussels headquarters.

"We have not only to confine (our cooperation) to only
terrorism and extremism," Gilani told a joint press
conference, referring to the fight against Islamist insurgents
in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

"We have to look beyond that so that we can work together
in future as well... there should be more cooperation with the
parliamentarians.. and with high level exchange of visits," he
added.

"It has to be a process that is demand driven," said
Rasmussen, adding: "We have already started
military-to-military cooperation and we stand ready to
further develop that," he stressed.

But "we should expand the political dialogue, personally
I attach a lot of importance to dialogue with the
parliaments," he added, echoing his Pakistani guest.

Rasmussen said Pakistan should define the area where the
NATO alliance can offer its support.

NATO and Pakistan have been fighting Islamic militants in
the border region in a sometimes brittle relationship which
has till now been largely limited to military contact.

Both said they were ready to continue the military
efforts.

"Pakistan is determined to win against the evil forces of
extremism and terrorism," said Gilani.

"Defeat in this war is not an option for us," he added,
offering his appreciation of NATO`s role in Afghanistan.

Rasmussen underlined that "NATO will stay in Afghanistan
as long as it takes to finish our job. There should be no
misunderstanding about that.

"We count on Pakistan as a partner and we will be a a
partner to Pakistan as well."

PTI

First Published: Friday, June 4, 2010 - 21:24

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