Ties with Pakistan now on firm grounds: US

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will meet in Brussels on Tuesday on the sidelines of a Nato meeting as the United States and Pakistan rebuild their ties on a firmer footing, says the State Department.

Asked if Pakistan was seeking more funds, the department’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a briefing the two countries had a number of economic projects in Pakistan and the meetings in Washington had reviewed those to ensure that they were targeted properly and on track.

Both sides were looking at possibilities “to encourage increased investment and to open markets,” she said when a journalist suggested that Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was in Washington “essentially on a fund-raising trip.”

Ms Nuland noted that Secretary Clinton met President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Khar during the UN General Assembly in September as well.

US special envoy Marc Grossman was in Pakistan in October and the two sides also held a number of working-group meetings while more meetings are planned in Islamabad later this month.

‘So obviously, the pace of interaction is much more back to normal now and puts the relationship on this firmer footing we’ve both sought,” Ms Nuland said, adding that since July the US and Pakistan have been working regularly on improving their strained ties.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, the Pakistani delegation and their American counterparts also reviewed various US assisted programmes in Pakistan aimed at boosting the country’s economic growth.

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