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May 10, 2014

Pakistan, US reiterate commitment to improve ties

 
May 10, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States on Friday reiterated their commitment to improve the bilateral relations, with Washington holding out a firm assurance for its continued long-term cooperation with Pakistan which would ensure security and stability in the region.
This commitment was made during the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Ambassador William J Burns on his first official visit to Pakistan after taking office.Burns arrived on Thursday night and his first meeting was at the Foreign Office over a dinner hosted by Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi.
On Friday, he called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
A round-table at the US embassy was cancelled for what was being called “scheduling issues” by the US press officer.Details of Burns’ visit were to be issued from Washington.
In a rare departure from the past, details of meetings with the prime minister and the army chief were not forthcoming and a one liner was issued confirming the meetings saying that bilateral and regional issues were discussed. Instead, some information came from the Foreign and Interior ministries.
In his meetings at the Foreign Office, Afghanistan remained an issue of importance, especially with a new government being formed in Kabul, and the withdrawal of Isaf forces having started.
Pakistan made it clear to Burns that though it is looking forward to working with the new Afghan government yet emphasised that any bilateral or regional arrangement must address Pakistan’s concerns and interests.
Though it is no secret that Washington has been persistent in telling Pakistan to ensure that the Haqqani network in North Waziristan be completely dismantled as changes take place inside Afghanistan, officially nothing was mentioned.
With regards to Afghanistan, the

importance of deeper consultations between Pakistan and the US was underscored. It was stressed that smooth security and economic transitions were also fundamental for stability in Afghanistan and the region.
“Both sides also discussed the post-2014 situation and matters relating to Afghan peace and reconciliation process,” said the spokesperson at the Foreign Office.
Neither did the worrisome case of an FBI agent who was arrested and released on bail in Karachi after trying to fly with undeclared weapons in his baggage, find mention in the sketchy media read outs.
According to spokesperson at the Foreign Office and Interior Ministry, which issued detailed statements, emphasis was laid on greater coordination and cooperation in relations in the wake of regional situation developing as a result of the drawdown of Isaf forces from Afghanistan.
“The interior minister outlined Pakistan’s concerns on the situation in the post-2014 scenario and said a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of the international community, particularly of Pakistan,” said a statement.
Chaudhry Nisar in his meeting with Burns said Pakistan enjoys good relations with the US.
The minister said Pakistan is looking forward to working with the new Afghan government but emphasised that any bilateral or regional arrangement must address Pakistan’s concerns and interests.
The US deputy secretary of state said the US has a long term commitment to Pakistan and also in ensuring security and stability of the region. He assured the minister of the US government’s continuous and long-term cooperation with Pakistan.
US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson was also present during the meeting. Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan Greg Giokas called on Chaudhry Nisar, the Interior Ministry said.
The meeting discussed issues relating to geo-political situation in the region. The minister said Pakistan enjoys good relations with Canada that are based on mutual respect and understanding. He especially appreciated the hospitality of the Canadian government and its people for extending support to immigrants from Pakistan.
Chaudhry Nisar also appreciated continuous support of the Canadian government in different sectors of Pakistan especially in agriculture and energy.The high commissioner reciprocated the feelings of Chaudhry Nisar and emphasised that he was endeavouring to play a proactive role in further strengthening relations between the two countries. He also said there was greater scope of cooperation between the two countries in various sectors.

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