Hillary for moving on with friend Zardari

By: Special Correspondent | September 25, 2012 |

Hillary for moving on with friend Zardari
NEW YORK – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday focusing on bilateral relations that appear to be moving forward.Hillary greeted Zardari as ‘my friend’ and introduced him to the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, whom she said she had just been sworn in so he could attend their talks. She thanked the president for Islamabad’s handling of several days of violent anti-US protests.Pakistan has been rocked by days of violent protests in its major cities as demonstrations have swept Muslim countries across the word over an anti-Islam film. Friday’s protests left 21 dead, and more than 200 injured as Pakistani police fought back to disperse crowds around US diplomatic missions.“We very much appreciate the strong response of your government,” she said, at the start of their 45-minute meeting held at a New York hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which begins today a week-long debate on issues of peace and security.Zardari said it had been “a difficult time for all of us” before reporters were ushered out of the room. A press release of the Pakistan Embassy said the president told the secretary of state: “We should build on the positive momentum”.Secretary Clinton reiterated US desire to continue working with the government and the people of Pakistan for further strengthening the bilateral relations and for the peace, stability and socio-economic development of the region, the press release said.President Zardari was assisted at the meeting by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman, ANP leader Asfandyar Wali, MQM leader Farooq Sattar and the president’s adviser on human rights, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. On the US side, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, Ambassador Marc Grossman, Special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, General Douglas Lute, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nauland and other senior State Department officials attended this meeting.The press release said the two sides reviewed the recent positive developments in their bilateral relationship including the resumption of Nato supplies, the high-level contacts between the two sides, the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the upgradation of the Peshawar-Torkham road and the release of the US Coalition Support Funds (CSF) reimbursements.However, the president also took the opportunity to express the deep dismay of the people of Pakistan at the blasphemous video. He said, “One or two insane persons should not be allowed to endanger the world peace in the garb of freedom of expression.”According to the press release, they also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and how Pakistan and the US could cooperate in helping bring peace and stability in that country. President Zardari assured Secretary Clinton that Pakistan was prepared to do everything in its power to help an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan. He also said that peace and stability in Pakistan was tied to peace and stability in Afghanistan. “No country has paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than Pakistan,” he said.President Zardari thanked Secretary Clinton for US assistance and stressed the need that rather than spreading itself too thin, the US should focus on large signature projects. The president also stressed the importance of granting Pakistani products, particularly textiles, greater access to the US market. “Pakistan would rather do trade than depend on aid,” the President told the Secretary Clinton.On cooperation in trade and economy, the President appreciated the recent announcement of multi-year Pakistan Private Initiative based on Public Private partnership with upto $80 million of US funding saying that such steps would encourage entrepreneurship for promising Pakistani companies.The president expressed the hope that substantial progress would be witnessed in the coming days in the bilateral investment treaty between the two countries. He also invited the US to become a partner in the Diamer Bhasha Dam project. He said that this will dispel the impression that the US only works to its own priorities in Pakistan.Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar insisted on Friday that ties between the United States and Pakistan were improving after hitting a low following the killing of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani compound in May 2011, and a US airstrike in November which killed 24 Pakistani troops.“We have been through some of the most difficult times in our 60-year history,” Hina said before the talks, admitting “the last 18 months were very, very difficult.” But she said amid concerted efforts the two nations were doing “better than we could have expected to do in building the trust.”“We still have work to do to get our bilateral relationship to the point where we would like it to be,” Clinton acknowledged. “But we both recognize that we can achieve more when we work together on a focused agenda.”Earlier, President Zardari reached New York to attend the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The president will address the 193-member UNGA today (Tuesday). During his four-day visit, President Zardari will hold meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chinese Foreign Minister Yaung Gi Che and Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.The president will also address a ceremony regarding polio eradication organised by the United Nations and the Bill Gates Foundation. The session will be presided over by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.Pakistan’s religious, political, social and common circles have expressed the hope that President Zardari will represent the real sentiments of Pakistanis and Muslims of the world against the sacrilegious film in his address to the UNGA. In this regard, all small and large religious parties of the country have urged President Zardari to adopt a bold stance. Source: http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/editors-picks/25-Sep-2012/hillary-for-moving-on-with-friend-zardari

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