EU offers over $138 mn in aid to Pakistan

June 17th, 2009 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Brussels, June 17 (DPA) The European Union (EU) is to give Pakistan over 100 million euros ($138 million) in aid, more than half of it for victims of the recent fighting in the Swat Valley, EU officials said Wednesday at the first ever EU-Pakistan summit here.
“I will be able to announce today more than 100 million euros… because we stand by the Pakistani people,” EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said as she arrived for talks with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who chaired the summit as the holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, said that the EU “takes Pakistan very seriously” and was “aware of the tremendous importance Pakistan has in the region”.

But Zardari said that he was most interested in boosting trade relations with the world’s largest economic bloc.

“What I need is trade, not aid,” he said before the summit.

Officials from the European Commission, the EU’s executive, said that the aid decision was intended to “help the most vulnerable” among the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by fighting between government and Taliban-linked forces in the Swat Valley.

In total, the commission is sending 72 million euros in new aid, together with some 50 million euros diverted from other projects to help on longer-term issues such as education, officials said.

The EU has already pledged seven million euros. It is set to send another 20 million immediately, and will then release a final 45 million from the bloc’s emergency reserve.

“In exchange, we want Pakistan to take the fight against terrorism very seriously, but that they also do a lot on their own home front,” Ferrero-Waldner said.

“That means on all the questions of good governance, that we work together with them on education,” she said.

The summit was set to discuss issues of security, trade, regional stability and human rights.

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