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November 26, 2019

Remarks on CPEC meant to generate debate: US envoy


November 26, 2019

LAHORE: The US ambassador to Pakistan Monday said the remarks on CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] by US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia were meant to generate debate; however it was Pakistan’s sovereign right to decide its future.

"We do not expect everyone to agree with us or agree with every aspect of her speech," Ambassador of the United States of America Paul W Jones said while talking to the media after visiting Wazir Khan Mosque to review the ongoing restoration work of some historic houses under the ''US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation'' (AFCP).

The ambassador, when asked about the statement made by US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Alice Wells gave in Washington DC about CPEC, said it was very ''thoughtful speech'', and added that the idea of her speech was to generate debate.

He said there should be plenty of debates and discussions which her (Alice Wells) speech was meant to contribute.

The top US diplomat for South Asia Thursday said the multi-billion-dollar CPEC project would take a toll on Pakistan’s economy as it was not an aid but a form of financing that guarantees profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises.

The US Ambassador told reporters that not only in Pakistan but in other countries as well the path of development was critical for the prosperity of people, therefore, it should be transparent and discussed openly.

The Ambassador, accompanied by wife Catherine Jones, said Lahore was a gorgeous city having great culture, commerce, tourism and was a capital of the province of agriculture.

He said it was a sign of respect from the American people that they contributed to the restoration work of the historic houses of 19th century and the ''Dina nath’ well in Lahore.

"I am delighted that we have such a dynamic and experienced Counsel General, Catherine Rodriguez, leading our consulate,” he said and added she has also served in Karachi and Peshawar.

Paul W Jones said he would meet Punjab Chief Minister, Governor Punjab and leading business leaders in Lahore in pursuit of the vision that was articulated when Prime Minister Imran Khan met US President Donald Trump during his visit to Washington DC.

The two leaders had agreed to further expand trade and investment relations. "USA is by far Pakistan''s largest export market", he observed. Agha Khan Cultural Service technical expert Rashid Makhdoom and Walled City Authority Deputy Director Tourism Adnan Zahoor briefed the US Ambassador about the restoration work in progress.

The representatives of Walled City Authority Lahore (WCAL) and conservation team were also present. Meanwhile, a high-level delegation, led by US Ambassador to Pakistan Paul W Jones, called on Chief Secretary Punjab Yousaf Naseem Khokhar at Civil Secretariat, here on Monday.

Establishment of a new US Consulate in Lahore, promotion of bilateral relations and matters of mutual interests were discussed in detail during the meeting, said a press release issued by the DGPR.

Talking to the delegation, the chief secretary said that Punjab had vast opportunities of collaboration in the fields of agriculture, industries and tourism. He mentioned that full support would be extended for setting up new Consulate in Lahore.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Paul W Jones said that US always gave great importance to its relations with Pakistan and was willing to further strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Additional Chief Secretary Home Syed Ali Murtaza, US Consul General Kathrine Rodriguez and Political and Economic Chief Lahore Barry Junker were also present.