Pakistan sees US as major development partner: PM

Sep 16, 2012 - 09:23
  • Marc Grossman (L), the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, shakes hand with Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad on September 15, 2012. PHOTO/ AFP

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Saturday said that his country regarded its relations with the United States as "very important" and that Pakistan valued it as a major development partner.

Ashraf's remarks came after he held talks with US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, who arrived in the Pakistani capital on Friday for talks with top officials.

"The Prime Minister said that relations between Pakistan and United States are very important and we value United States as a major development partner," a statement issued by Ashraf's office said.

"We have a shared objective in fighting terrorism and need to cooperate more to get rid of this menace," the statement said.

Ambassador Grossman said that future relations between Pakistan and the United States should be based on market access and trade, it said.

The US government was working on a bilateral investment treaty to "facilitate" US investment in Pakistan and improve market access, according to the Pakistani statement, adding that the US has promised 200 million dollars for the construction of Diamer-Basha dam in northern Pakistan.

A statement issued by the US embassy in Islamabad said Grossman had held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and parliamentarians.

Grossman said that "the United States believes that its relationship with Pakistan should be enduring, strategic, and clearly defined", the US statement said.

Grossman raised the case of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who was jailed in May for 33 years after he was arrested following the killing of Osama bin Laden by US troops a year earlier.

However, the statement did not mention the response by Pakistani officials.

The US had earlier admitted Afridi was working with US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify bin Laden's presence in the northern town of Abbottabad -- although he was eventually jailed for alleged ties to a warlord.

The relationship between Islamabad and Washington has been rocky for years, and relations have only just resumed after nosediving following the raid that killed bin Laden and an air raid that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops.

Washington considers Pakistan's semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt as the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

Grossman also addressed the issue of the anti-Islam video circulating on the internet that has led to protests in a number of countries, the statement said.

He stated very clearly, as Secretary Clinton did, "that the United States Government had absolutely nothing to do with this video", it said.

The movie, "Innocence of Muslims", portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent. A mob stormed the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday, killing the US ambassador and several other staff.

Separately, the Pakistani foreign ministry in a statement said that Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will visit the US from September 18-22.

Khar will hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior US officials and also interact with Congressmen, academics and think-tanks, it said.

She will later proceed to New York to join a delegation led by Zardari to participate in the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly session, it said.

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