Pakistan’s nukes: US trusts Zardari’s assurances

May 12th, 2009 - 10:38 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 12 (IANS) The United States has reiterated it “full faith and confidence” in Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari saying they have been reassured about Islamabad’s commitment to dealing with the Taliban and safety of its nuclear arsenal.

“We were assured by President Zardari that they have complete command and control of the nuclear weapons in Pakistan,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday when asked whether the US had made any promises about helping to protect Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Asked how the US would verify Pakistan’s claim, he said: “We have full faith and confidence in President Zardari.”

Kelly agreed that after the last week’s three-way meetings with Afghanistan and Pakistan there was increased assurance in Washington that Zardari has the full support and command of the military and is fully committed to dealing with the Taliban.

“I think that’s fair to say,” he said noting President Barack Obama had spoken extensively on that subject.

“I think that the meetings last week were very productive. And we look forward to continuing to help the Government of Pakistan in their battle against the extremists and their attempt to establish democratic institutions,” he said.

Asked what the US planned to do to help people fleeing Swat following the Pakistani military offensive there, Kelly said: “Well, whatever we do, of course, will be in close consultation with President Zardari and his government.”

“I think at this point we’re assessing what the needs are and we’re assessing where our aid can fit in and be of use. But we support, of course, the operation in the Swat Valley, and we will stand ready to help with any kind of humanitarian situation that might evolve out of it.”

However, it was “really difficult” to say how quickly the US aid could move into the Swat Valley, Kelly said. He was also not aware of a specific request from Pakistan for humanitarian aid.

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