Zardari hopes progress in talks


July 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The next round of strategic talks between Pakistan and the United States will ensure progress in mutually agreed areas of cooperation between the two countries, President Asif Ali Zardari said during a meeting with US special envoy Richard Holbrooke at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on Friday.

Discussing the regional security situation, President Asif Zardari said that Pakistani people and “our armed forces have rendered great sacrifices in the ongoing fight against militancy”.

Despite great human and material losses, “we are determined to pursue our struggle till its logical end”.

He said that the international community “must take into consideration our requirements and valid concerns” while chalking out any strategy in this regard.

Stressing the need for rapid development in conflict-hit areas, he said it was necessary for changing the mindset of the militants, and winning the “battle of hearts and minds”.

On Afghanistan, the president said that a stable, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan, and it “firmly believes in the policy of neutrality and non-interference in internal matters of Afghanistan”.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s desire to help restore peace in Afghanistan, President Zardari said that the world community “needs to synergise their efforts for restoration of peace”.

Ambassador Holbrooke expressed the hope that the dialogue would yield positive results.

The meeting was also attended by the US Ambassador in Islamabad, Anne W. Patterson and Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2010.

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