Hinting at a nuclear deal, Pakistan on Wednesday sought access to vital energy resources in a “non-discriminatory” manner from the United States, which in turn promised to help Islamabad meet its “urgent energy needs”.
<b1>Opening the first strategic dialogue between the two sides with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also sought US engagement in the peace process with India.
"We hope non-discriminatory access to energy resources will be made available to us, so that we too can pursue our economic and industrial development plans,” said Qureshi. The minister is leading a Pakistani delegation that includes army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Clinton responded by saying the US would help Pakistan on all issues, including meeting its “urgent energy needs”.
Pakistan has been demanding a nuclear deal similar to the one the US has with India. The US has been taking the demand coolly due to proliferation concerns, but in the run-up to the talks had indicated it would consider the demand.
Qureshi pledged support to the war on terror but said Pakistan has key wishes from the US too, including $2 billion in unreimbursed costs for counter-terror operations, defence equipment and even drones.
“Pakistan is committed to doing its part to facilitate the world community’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan. We hope the world community will be equally responsive to our legitimate concerns,” he said.
Clinton acknowledged the two nations “have had our misunderstandings and disagreements” and said: “There are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends... But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.” Signalling a new warmth in ties, she said: “Pakistan is close to my heart. Pakistan’s struggles are my struggles and I am committed to the success of this dialogue.”