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Asia-pacific

Clinton calls for more action on terrorism during Islamabad visit

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-18

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United states expects Pakistan to take "additional steps" against terrorism following talks in Islamabad with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.

AFP - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday called for "additional steps" from Pakistan against terrorism, ahead of talks aimed at bolstering ties and securing firmer support for the Afghan war.    

The US top diplomat made the comments after flying into Islamabad where she held evening talks with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.
   
"There are still additional steps that we are asking and expecting the Pakistanis to take," she told the BBC.
   
Clinton noted that Washington and Islamabad had "increased our cooperation, deepened our relationship, when it comes to fighting terrorism."
   
"But there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that should an attack against the United States be traced to be Pakistani it would have a very devastating impact on our relationship," she added.
   
Clinton held talks with Gilani and Zardari in Islamabad and witnessed the signing of a trade pact between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said.
   
Gilani "underlined the need for greater economic cooperation between Pakistan and the US to address the root causes of terrorism, like illiteracy, poverty and under development", his office said in a statement.
   
Clinton "profusely commended the Prime Minister’s leadership and his personal interest in promoting multifarious cooperation and strengthening the bilateral ties with US.
   
"She stated that she saluted his government’s resolve to fight terrorism and her government was fully appreciative of the extraordinary sacrifices made by Pakistan in its war," the statement said.
   
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Zardari had "called for a focused and result-oriented strategic dialogue adding that issues relating to Pakistan’s energy needs were most important and needed to be dealt with urgently.
   
Zardari and Clinton discussed US drone attacks in tribal areas, post-conflict rehabilitation of the affected areas, strengthening of the law enforcing agencies and the timely reimbursement of coalition support funds arrears to Pakistan, Babar said in a statement.
   
Clinton is due to hold meetings on Monday with high-level political and military figures to further a "strategic dialogue", and announce details of a huge aid deal aimed at chipping away at anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.
   
The package will focus on water, energy and health projects, a senior US official said, part of a five-year 7.5-billion-dollar funding approved by the US Congress last year.
   
Clinton's visit comes ahead of her trip to Afghanistan on Tuesday for a major international donors conference, and as Washington continues to push Islamabad for further steps to rid its western border of Islamist militants.
   
The United States has long voiced concern that elements of Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence service were supporting Taliban insurgents, despite the government's public anti-terror stance.
   
But a government adviser travelling with Clinton, Vali Nasr, said a renewed and deeper engagement between the two countries had yielded greater trust on shared security issues.
   
President Barack Obama's administration has promised to engage more deeply with Pakistan, which has long seen Washington as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
   
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will meet Clinton on Monday to reconvene the strategic dialogue started during his visit to Washington in March.
   
Since then 13 working groups covering topics ranging from development to defence have been set up to find areas for possible cooperation, and their progress will be reviewed by Clinton and Qureshi.
   
The US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said the dialogue was delivering important changes to the US-Pakistan relationship.
   
In a statement from his ministry, Qureshi said Clinton's visit "would help give further impetus to the Pakistan-US partnership" and welcomed US engagement in development projects.
   
A senior US official speaking on condition of anonymity said closer ties with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani were helping in the struggle against the militant Haqqani network, one of the toughest foes faced by foreign forces in Afghanistan.
   
"The amount of engagement we have with General Kayani... is unprecedented. We feel that we're making some slow but steady forward movement (on Haqqani)," the official said.
   
On Sunday NATO said it had intercepted a letter from fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar -- believed by the alliance to be hiding in Pakistan -- in which he called for any Afghan supporting their country's government to be captured or killed.

 

Date created : 2010-07-18

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