Islamabad: The US has said it will
support all efforts for the early resumption of the Composite
Dialogue between India and Pakistan as Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani appealed to it to enhance his country`s defence
capability to "maintain balance of power" in the region.
During a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, Gilani called on the US to mediate "between Pakistan
and India on core interests i.e. Kashmir (and) water issues as
well as help Pakistan enhance its defence capability to
maintain balance of power," said a statement issued by the
premier`s office here last night.
The statement quoted Clinton as commending Gilani "for
his stance of reconciliation and the desire for improving
relations with India through resolution of all outstanding
issues by resuming the composite dialogue".
She said that while she is aware that "it is a
difficult process, the US government would support efforts for
early resumption of the composite dialogue".
India put the composite dialogue on hold in the wake
of the Mumbai terror attacks and linked the resumption of the
peace process to action being taken against the perpetrators
of the assault.
Clinton arrived here this afternoon on her maiden
visit to Pakistan for talks with the top leadership on the
ongoing war on terror and bilateral cooperation.
Pakistani officials have expressed concern about
recent big ticket defence deals concluded by India, saying
they alter the balance of power in the region.
Pakistan has also called on the US to provide it
sophisticated military equipment needed for the war on terror,
but India has said such weapons could be used against it.
Gilani also said the US should ensure the early
reimbursement of Pakistan`s expenses on the war on terror
through the Coalition Support Fund and Counter-Insurgency
He called on the US to expedite the replenishment of
urgently needed military hardware to strengthen the hands of
Pakistan`s armed forces in the ongoing operation against the
Pakistan wants to build a long-term and stable
partnership with the US "based on mutual trust and respect",
he said and urged the US administration to support it by
enhancing bilateral trade through increased market access
rather than aid.
"The US should start negotiations on a Free Trade
Agreement with Pakistan," he said, adding that financial aid
from America should be routed through the government system.
While informing Clinton about progress in the
operations against the Taliban in Waziristan, Gilani said the
civil and defence leadership and all political forces were
fully united behind the campaign, reflecting the "firm resolve
to root out evil forces from Pakistan`s territory".