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Pak FM to visit US over Kerry-Lugar aid concerns

October 12, 2009 17:23 IST

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is set to embark on his second visit to the US in less than a week to convey Pakistan's concerns on conditions linked to US $ 7.5 billion in aid to be provided to it over under the aegis of the Kerry-Lugar Bill a period of five years under a bill passed by American Congress.

Qureshi's visit to the US is unscheduled and comes in the wake of Pakistan's military commanders expressing concern over clauses in the Kerry-Lugar aid bill that they said could affect national security.

The development has brought to the fore differences between the powerful army and the Pakistan People's Party-led government, which has been strongly backing the bill. A source in the Foreign Office told the Dawn newspaper: "It is an unscheduled visit during which the Foreign Minister will definitely discuss the bill."

Qureshi, who is leaving for the US on Monday, is expected to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. "We have our own legitimate concerns. We are a sovereign state and we have our own interest. Taking into account Pakistan's interest we have to forward," Qureshi said.

The visit is significant because Qureshi had cut short his last trip to the US and returned to Pakistan on Friday after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called him back for consultations. He will travel to Washington at a time when Pakistan is witnessing a heated debate on the Kerry-Lugar bill.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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