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'US building deeper ties with India, Pak'

Source: PTI
March 27, 2010 11:48 IST
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The United States is building a deeper relationship with both India and Pakistan which are facing the common threat of terrorism in the region, a top Obama administration official has said.

"It (terrorism) is a shared threat for Pakistan, it's a shared threat for India, it's a shared threat for others. I just would caution that we should not see this in zero-sum terms," Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley told mediapersons in Washington, DC.

He said the US is building 'a deeper relationship' with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"This is good for the United States, it's good for these countries individually, and it's also good for the region as a whole."

Terming the US-Pak strategic dialogue, which took place here this week, as 'very successful,' he said the two sides 'characterised a much different, much broader relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect.'

This can be seen in the memos of intent that were signed on Thursday in terms of rehabilitation of electricity projects and roads within Pakistan, he said.

The two-day dialogue, co-chaired by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Clinton, was the first ever at the Cabinet level, which concluded on Thursday with a joint statement in which the two countries pledged to joint work together against terrorists in the region.

At the conclusion of the strategic dialogue, the Pakistani delegation, including army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, went to the White House for a meeting with Gen (Retd) James Jones, the US National Security Advisor.

"Jones hosted a meeting at the White House with Foreign Minister Mahmood Shah Qureshi, who has been leading a delegation of Pakistani senior government officials for meetings in Washington this week," White House spokesman Mike Hammer said.

"The meeting was the Foreign Minister's last in Washington before his departure and presented an opportunity for Gen Jones to recap the success of various bilateral engagements and office calls throughout the week," he said.

"Also joining the meeting were (Pakistan) Defence Minister (Ahmed Mukhtar), Chief of Army Staff and Pakistani Ambassador to the United States (Husain Haqqani). Vice President (Joe) Biden dropped by the meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi and the delegation to express his appreciation for the progress made this week on issues of bilateral interest," Hammer said.

Crowley said the civilian component of the strategy is geared towards identifying ways to meet the needs of the Pakistani people, strengthening institutions, the rule of law and civilian governance within Pakistan.

"We have gone beyond the security lens that remains a key component but not just now the only lens through which you can evaluate the US-Pakistani relationship.

"As Foreign Minister Qureshi reflected, we have taken the various sectors that we have cooperated on," he said.

"They've increased from four to 10, so I think we leave this week with very encouraged by the dynamic discussion that we had here. There will be sectors, groups that will follow up over the next few months during the course of the dialogue," Crowley said.

Clinton is committed to visiting Pakistan again later this year to continue the high-level dialogue, he said. "So we are very encouraged by what is taking place."

The US official said the administration is encouraged by steps that have been taken by Pakistan in recent months against terrorism because he thinks Islamabad now recognises that this is a shared threat.

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