US, Pak must confront terrorism and extremism together: Clinton
Washington: Observing that the US and Pakistan face a common threat and enemy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday said that the two countries must confront terrorism and extremism together.
Making a strong push for a stronger action by Pakistan against terrorism in the country, Clinton at a joint press availability with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar asserted that Pakistani territory should not be used to launch attack against other nations.
"We face a common threat and a common enemy and we must confront terrorism and extremism together," Clinton said as she called for an aggressive push against terrorism in the region.
Early this month, Clinton had designated the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organisation, which she said was a step to stop the flow of any funding to this Pakistan-based outfit.
Clinton said now the Pakistani Parliament has called for expelling foreign fighters so that its territory can be fully under control of the Pakistani government and cannot be used to launch attack against other nations.
Follow-through on this is challenging and necessary, she noted.
"We look forward to working with Pakistan as they continue to address these problems," she said.
Both the United States and Pakistan, she said, have pledged to work for a secure, prosperous and stable Afghanistan which is vital for the security of the region.
Afghanistan was going to be a major topic of discussion for the two delegations led by Clinton and Khar at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
Clinton and Khar made a joint appearance before the State Department Press Corps at the start of their bilateral meeting and did not take any questions.
Their press conference later in the day was canceled.
The meeting between the two top diplomats comes ahead of the next week's meeting between Clinton and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
Both the top American and Pakistani diplomats acknowledged that the last year and half have been very difficult for the relationship between the two countries and they are trying their best to bring it back on track.
"In the last few months we have done rather well," he said referring to the series of meetings between the two countries.
Ahead of the meeting, Khar told journalists that the two countries would be talking on building an architecture of cooperation which would take this relationship to be sustainable, predictable and to be viewed by both the public to be pursuing their national interest.
Having lost 30,000 civilians and 6,000 soldiers in the last few years in the war against terrorism, Khar said Pakistan is committed to taking action against terrorism.
The strongest convergence of interest between the US and Pakistan, she said, is in Afghanistan, which presents a common challenge to both the countries.
At the same time, she expressed concerns over reports of infiltration from Afghanistan inside Pakistan.
Pakistan and US, she said, need to work together to ensure there is no vacuum as Afghanistan moves towards transition.
"Today the strongest convergence of interest that we have is not in any of these bilateral tracks but in Afghanistan because today presents a common challenge to both our countries. We are, of course, concerned of the reports that we hear from Afghanistan. We are concerned of some of the infiltration which is coming from Afghanistan inside Pakistan. We are also concerned about the security situation," Khar said.
"I think that the United States and Pakistan today have a unique opportunity to be able to work together to ensure that there's no security vacuum left in Afghanistan as we go through transition, that the Afghan people are able to decide for their own future and live as a sovereign, independent country which is a source of stability and peace in the region for the next 30 years," she said.
"We have a lot which unites us. We have a lot of convergences. And I just want to end by saying that one thing which as created challenges for us in Pakistan is for this relationship to be viewed singularly to be pursuing the national interests of the United States of America," she said.
"In pursuing our counterterrorism goals, in pursuing a better future within the region, and pursuing a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan, we are indeed pursuing our own national interests. And even though we may have differences of approach on some issues, I am quite sure that as we talk more and as we go through this architecture of cooperation that I talked about, we can manage to find solutions to each of the difficulties also," Khar said.