Need to shift economic ties with Pak from aid to trade: Clinton



Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday said there is need to move America's economic ties with Pakistan from aid to trade and hoped to finalise a bilateral investment treaty soon as her Pakistani counterpart called for a preferential market access agreement.

"Foreign Minister (Hina Rabbani) Khar and I agree that we need to shift our economic relationship from aid to trade and investment," Clinton told reporters in a joint media availability with Khar before the start of talks between them.

"We are working to help Pakistan attract more private sector investment. We hope to finalize a bilateral investment treaty soon, and we've created a Pakistan Private Investment Initiative to help more of Pakistan's small-and-medium-sized companies get access to capital," Clinton said in her press availability during which no questions were taken.

Clinton said over the past few years we have seen Pakistan's civilian government begin to put down stronger roots, and if elections proceed as planned next year, it will mark the first time in Pakistan's history that a civilian-led government has served its full term.

"The United States supports Pakistan's economic development, and we have said many times that we want to see democracy succeed in Pakistan," she said.

"We also support Pakistan's sovereignty, but we are clear that all sovereign nations carry certain obligations: to protect the human rights of their citizens, to control their territory, to prevent threats to their neighbors and the international community," she said.

"So we know that there is still much to be done. But I can assure the people of Pakistan that the United States remains committed to this important relationship. And we are confident we can continue to move forward together, one step at a time, to reach our shared strategic objectives," Clinton said.

Emphasizing on strengthening economic relations between the two countries, Khar said Pakistan would be happy to move on with the bilateral investment treaty, but would be even more interested to work towards a preferential market access, through which people in Pakistan can be given a string message that the US is committed to providing economic opportunities to Pakistanis.

PTI