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Kerry in Pak, seeks to allay concerns over US aid bill

world Updated: Oct 19, 2009 21:23 IST

Powerful US Senator John Kerry, co-architect of the controversial aid bill, today held talks with Pakistani leadership and the Army Chief, during which he sought to ally concerns over the bill that triples non-military aid to $1.5 annually over the next five years.

Kerry, who arrived in Islamabad, met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif to tell them that the "real intent of US Congress and administration was to help Pakistan".

Describing the controversy in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar Bill as "unfortunate", Kerry said it is a "genuine effort on the part of the US to build a long-term partnership" by investing USD 7.5 billion for the socio-economic development of the country.

Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hoped the joint explanatory statement on the bill has "successfully allayed the misgivings of the concerned circles in Pakistan".

His visit comes in the wake of the powerful Pakistan Army airing its concerns over clauses in the legislation related to the civilian government's oversight on the military budget and promotions.

During his meeting with Kerry, Gilani hoped that the conditions attached to the aid bill will not come in the way of the US fulfilling its commitments to Pakistan, which he said, would "constitute a real test for US credibility".