Zardari assures on nukes, vows fight against militants

May 8th, 2009 - 10:11 am ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 8 (IANS) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has sought to reassure America that his government has full control of its nuclear weapons and a just launched operation against extremists would continue until normalcy was restored.

“I have attested to the fact that our nuclear capability is in safe hands,” he told reporters after a meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee here Thursday.

“All of the responsible authorities” in and out of Pakistan “are availed of the situation,” he added.

Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to defeating terrorists threatening the country’s stability, Zardari said an operation against militants announced by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad “will go on till the situation returns to normal.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Karzai said that during the tripartite talks in Washington the two countries had taken important steps to improve their coordination.

Zardari and Karzai met over lunch on Capitol Hill with members of the Senate committee to continue a dialogue that began Tuesday with three-way talks at the State Department, followed by meetings Wednesday at the White House.

The talks focused mainly on ways to implement President Barack Obama’s new Afghan war strategy and on ways to simultaneously fight the insurgency in Pakistan.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman John Kerry, who co-hosted the lunch with Lugar, told the news conference that Zardari and Karzai exhibited a realistic approach to the problem of defeating Al Qaeda and allied extremist groups.

“All of the senators who were present today were encouraged by the reality with which both presidents addressed the questions and summarized the challenges,” Kerry said.

Kerry, who has co-sponsored a five year $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan along with Lugar, said he hoped the Senate and the House would be able to overcome the differences between their bills for providing assistance to Pakistan.

US special envoy Richard Holbrooke said another trilateral meeting would be held after the Afghan elections. He said the CIA and FBI chiefs also participated in the meeting with the senators.

The aim was to promote “real cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan because without that cooperation success is not achievable,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence on how to pull that together, we have a sense of urgency, but we can’t give you a precise date.”

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