US assures Pak of security assistance package

Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 08:59

Washington: The Obama Administration`s goal is to provide a multi-year security assistance package to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said and termed the demand for nuclear deal as one of the several "complicated" issues with Islamabad.

"I was pleased to inform the Foreign Minister (Qureshi) that our goal is a multi-year security assistance package, including foreign military financing, based upon identified
mutual strategic objectives, which would further strengthen our long-term partnership with Pakistan," Clinton said.

She was addressing a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the end of the first of two days of a high-level strategic dialogue
between the two countries.

"We of course will work closely with Congress to further develop this commitment," she said, adding the high-powered delegations from the two countries also discussed the
importance of working on a multi-year basis with regard to resource planning.

Clinton, however, evaded a direct reply when asked whether the Obama Administration was prepared to discuss a civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan.

"We have a broad agenda, with many complicated issues, like the one you referred to. Discussions are continuing through tomorrow. While I will not go into details of our
bilateral conversation, we`ve said that we will listen to and engage with our Pakistani partners on whatever issues the delegation raises. We`re committed to helping Pakistan meet its real energy needs," Clinton replied.

Earlier in the day, Qureshi made a pitch for the civilian nuclear deal by seeking "non-discriminatory access to vital energy resources" as Pakistan struggles to overcome massive power cuts.

Clinton said she is working together to ensure that Pakistanis have access to affordable and reliable power, which is essential to funding economic development.

"When I was in Islamabad in October, we announced a signature energy programme, and tomorrow USAID Administrator (Rajiv) Shah and (Pak) Secretary of Water and Power Rafi will sign implementation agreements for three thermal power station rehabilitation projects that will provide more electricity to more people," Clinton said.

I am particularly pleased that we are moving forward with USD 125 million to Pakistan for energy-sector projects. It`s an assistance programme I announced when I was there in
October and as the foreign minister said, we have followed through. We don`t just make announcements and then forget about them and get the headlines and move on, she said.

Giving a rundown of the issues discussed during the day-long dialogue, Clinton said: "We discussed Pakistan`s national security priorities, ongoing counterinsurgency
operations and long-term military modernisation and recapitalisation efforts."

Pakistan, she said, is on the front line of confronting the violent extremism that threatens us all, and the country`s civilians and security forces continue to bear the brunt of
that fight.

"We respect the sacrifices that Pakistan has made in combating terrorists who seek to undermine its stability and undo its progress, and we pay tribute to those who have fallen
both those in uniform and the many innocent civilians killed or injured," she added.
Observing that the US-Pak relationship extends far beyond security as does the scope of this dialogue, Clinton said, this is best demonstrated by the landmark Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, which supports Pakistan`s economic and social development goals with USD 7.5 billion in assistance over five years.

Clinton also said the US will sign today a letter of intent to upgrade significant road infrastructure in the northwest.

We are taking concrete steps to help Pakistan boost exports of agricultural products and to improve agricultural infrastructure, she said.
"We are continuing to work for greater market access to our market for Pakistani products. We continue to collaborate on plans for new water projects and we`re looking forward to the completion of a transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan that we believe will benefit both countries," Clinton said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 08:59

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