Ties with Pakistan go beyond security: Obama
Washington: Pledging ties with Pakistan that go "far beyond security issues", US President Barack Obama has said he is "very fond" of the country he had visited during his college days.
"President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan, having visited the country during college," Associated Press of Pakistan quoted a White House statement as saying after a 40-minute meeting on Sunday between Obama and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit.
The two leaders also reaffirmed the "positive relations" between the US and Pakistan, senior American and Pakistani officials said.
The US-Pakistan relationship was "of significant importance because of the shared values of our countries and the fight we are both engaged in against extremists operating in South Asia", the statement said.
Obama also noted that "our multi-faceted and long-term strategic relationship goes far beyond security issues", the statement added.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Obama vowed to take US-Pakistan bilateral relations to "unprecedented heights" during the meeting.
Obama also expressed his appreciation for the "quick reaction of Pakistani security forces" to the April 05 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Peshawar and expressed his condolences at the Pakistani casualties from that attack and the attack on a political rally in Lower Dir the same day.
He noted that "these two attacks on the same day are important to note because the extremists do not distinguish between us and we are truly facing a common enemy".
The two leaders discussed the progress made during their March 24-25 strategic dialogue, while Obama reiterated the US pledge to work with Pakistan to address issues of mutual concern in the long-term relationship.
Indicating his approval of the progress made during the strategic dialogue, Gilani hoped that the working groups that have been established to address various aspects of the relationship would yield progress in advance of the next meeting, scheduled for late 2010 in Islamabad.
Gilani noted that his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit "comes at a time when popular support for the US-Pakistan relationship is growing", the White House statement added.
Obama also reaffirmed confidence in the security of Pakistani strategic assets, Foreign Minister Qureshi told Pakistani journalists.
The US President said Washington had no "sinister" designs towards Pakistan's nuclear programme and expressed satisfaction with the steps Islamabad had taken to protect its assets, Qureshi added.