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Pak keen to engage with Holbrooke

Expressing Pakistan's keenness to "engage" with US, PM Yousuf Raza Gilani has invited Richard Holbrooke, the new US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, to visit the country.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2009 13:36 IST

Expressing Pakistan's keenness to "engage" with US, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has invited Richard Holbrooke, the new US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, to visit the country to develop a "workable approach" to security issues and the war on terror.

"We are looking forward to engaging with (Holbrooke). Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has invited him to come to Pakistan and we hope to see him soon," Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said.

"He is a person who is both an accomplished diplomat, understands the complexities of the region and, in him, we find a very pragmatic person," Bashir told The News daily.

The Pakistan government wants to work closely with Holbrooke to focus on "developing a workable approach to the issue of security and anti-terrorism", he said.

"It is quite clear that there is no military solution given the existing complexities. If someone mentions the military surge, then we would like to also add the political surge, or the civilian surge as NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said...," he added.

In one of his first major foreign policy decisions, US President Barack Obama named Holbrooke as the special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan. US State Department spokesman Robert Woods on Friday said that Holbrooke intends to visit the region as soon as possible.

Bashir said Pakistan would like to see development for the long term. The issue of extremism has to be viewed "for the whole region in a more holistic manner", he said.

"Extremism is an issue as a whole, not only for Pakistan but also for the whole region," he said.

Pakistan yesterday welcomed Holbrooke's appointment, saying it was looking forward "to enhanced and fruitful engagement with the special envoy to further the cause of peace and stability in the region".