US presses Pakistan to reopen NATO routes

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has called for addressing the issue of trust deficit between Islamabad and Washington.

Washington: The US has pressed Pakistan to act against the extremists groups, including al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, who threaten them as well as the region and sought reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday in Chicago on the sidelines of the crucial NATO Summit focusing Afghanistan.

"They discussed the importance of reopening the NATO supply lines; of taking joint action against the extremists who threaten Pakistan, the United States, and the region, including al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network," a US State Department official said after the nearly hour-long meeting between the two leaders.

They also discussed the importance of "supporting Afghanistan`s security, stability, and efforts toward reconciliation; and of concluding negotiations for a US-Pakistan Bilateral Investment Treaty," the official said.

The two sides are at loggerheads over issue of reopening the NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, closed last November by Pakistan after an air raid killed 24 of its soldiers.

The official said that the US is committed to a strong, mutually beneficial relationship built on concrete actions to enhance the security and prosperity of Pakistan, the United States, and the region.

Meanwhile, Pakistani presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the two leaders discussed the issue of CIA drone strikes and delay in payment of coalition support fund.

President Zardari noted that due to the trust deficit, it would be difficult for Islamabad to rejoin counter-terrorism co-operation with the international community, Babar said.

"Bridging the trust-deficit, the President said, was a must for Pakistan re-joining counter-terrorism cooperation with the international community," he added.

"A stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan requires a stable, secure and prosperous region, and we welcome discussions about how to build economic and commercial linkages that will benefit the entire region," a State Department official said when asked about the meeting between the two leaders.


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