NEW YORK: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on President Asif Ali Zardari here on Monday and had an in-depth conversation about the way forward in the Pakistan-US ties. The two leaders discussed the bilateral relations and reviewed recent positive developments in the relationship, including the opening of the Ground Lines of Communications for the Nato supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan.
The meeting was held here on the sidelines of the 67th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.The president was assisted in the meeting by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khan, Ambassador Sherry Rehman, Asfandyar Wali, Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was assisted by Deputy Secretary Tom Nides, Ambassador Marc Grossman, General Douglas Lute, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nauland and other senior State Department officials.
The president and Secretary Clinton discussed the situation in Afghanistan and how Pakistan and the United States could cooperate in helping bring peace and stability in that country. President Zardari assured Secretary Clinton that Pakistan was prepared to do everything in its power to help an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The president also conveyed that peace and stability in Pakistan was tied to peace and stability in Afghanistan. “No country has paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than Pakistan,” the president told the US secretary of state.
The president also took the opportunity to express the deep dismay of the people of Pakistan over the blasphemous video. He said, “One or two insane persons should not be allowed to endanger the world peace in the garb of freedom of expression.”
President Zardari thanked Secretary Clinton for US assistance and stressed that rather than spreading itself too thin, the US should focus on large signature projects in Pakistan. The president also stressed the importance of granting Pakistani products, particularly textiles, greater access to the US market. “Pakistan would rather do trade than depend on aid,” the president told Secretary Clinton.
On cooperation in trade and economy, the president appreciated the recent announcement of multi-year Pakistan Private Initiative based on Public Private partnership with up to $80 million of US funding, saying that such steps would encourage entrepreneurship for promising Pakistani companies. He also expressed the hope that substantial progress would be witnessed in the coming days in the bilateral investment treaty between the two countries.
The president also invited the US to become a partner in the Diamer Bhasha Dam project. He said that this would dispel the impression that the US only worked on its own priorities in Pakistan. –APP
AFP adds: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday and thanked him for Pakistan’s handling of several days of violent anti-US protests. Clinton greeted Zardari as “my friend” and introduced him to the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, whom she said she had just been sworn in so he could attend their talks.
“We very much appreciate the strong response of your government,” she said, at the start of their meeting in a New York hotel, held on the sidelines of the UNGA which opens on Tuesday.