Pakistan sees “convergence of interests” with US

February 25th, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 25 (IANS) Citing a “convergence of interests” between Washington and Islamabad and a “willingness to work together,” Pakistan has expressed the hope that Obama administration’s regional approach will help root out extremism within its borders.

“I see a lot of hope in the new administration, the new leadership, and Pakistan is willing to work with the American administration to fight extremism and terrorism,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said after a meeting Tuesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“We are determined to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he said.”There’s a convergence between us, there’s a willingness to work together.”

Qureshi is in Washington to take part in strategic review of US policy to stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan. The effort is being led by South Asian security expert Bruce Riedel and Richard Holbrooke, US special representative.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin D. Spanta is also leading his country’s delegation to take part in the review. He and Qureshi will meet with both Clinton and Holbrooke this week.

“We are consulting very closely with the government of Pakistan on our strategic review of our way forward and I’m very grateful for the minister’s advice and counsel,” Clinton said after the meeting with Qureshi.

Last week President Barack Obama announced he is sending another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight a strengthening insurgency, which Obama has called the “central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.”

The troops will be sent to southern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan and is a haven for Taliban insurgents. Pakistani officials have expressed concern the deployment will push the Taliban across the border into Pakistan and further destabilise their country.

The Obama administration is conducting several reviews of US policy in Afghanistan, including a review by Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in the region. Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the original mission in Afghanistan was “too broad” and needs to be more “realistic and focused” for the US to succeed.

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