Expedite aid, Zardari urges US (Lead)April 13th, 2009 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, April 13 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Monday urged the US to expedite legislation granting Pakistan $7.5 billion in non-military aid over the next five years and work out a joint strategy against terror.
He made the remarks during a meeting here with visiting US Senator John Kerry, APP news agency reported.
“They discussed various issues including the situation in the region, the upcoming meeting of Friends of Democratic Pakistan (lobby) in Tokyo on April 17, funds for socio-economic uplift in Pakistan and the ongoing war on terror,” it added.
Zardari said the financial assistance was essential for the economic and social uplift of the people of Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US ambassador Anne W. Patterson were also present at the meeting.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, at a meeting earlier with Kerry, said the US should not make aid to Pakistan for the war against terror conditional as this would be counter productive.
“Pakistan-US relations should be based on mutual trust. Pakistan is doing a lot in the war against terrorism,” Gilani maintained.
Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking member of the committee, have introduced a bill to provide Pakistan $1.5 billion in non-military aid annually for the next five years to create what are termed reconstruction opportunity zones.
The aid, however, is predicated on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton certifying that Pakistan is performing adequately in the war against terror.
US President Barack Obama, while unveiling his new Af-Pak strategy last month, cautioned there would be no “blank cheques” in the aid that would be provided in the war against terror and that Pakistan would have to show visible results.
Gilani also asked Kerry to urge the US government to focus on intelligence sharing so that the two countries could get rid of the menace of extremism, militancy and terrorism, APP said.
Kerry’s visit follows that last week of Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
The duo were on a five day swing that also took them to Afghanistan and India to take forward the Af-Pak strategy.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Peterson were among those present at Kerry’s meeting with Gilani.
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