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Pakistan calls on US to follow up words with action

world Updated: Mar 18, 2010 17:32 IST

AFP
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Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday the need to rebuild trust with the United States was key to upcoming talks and called on Washington to follow up words with action.

"My message to the US is that the time has come to walk the talk," he told a news conference in Islamabad.

Qureshi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are scheduled to lead talks in Washington next week aimed at boosting the economy and security of Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda and the long war in Afghanistan.

They will chair the March 24 talks on what the State Department says will be economic development, education, agriculture and security.

"I believe our forthcoming dialogue will provide a good opportunity to re-build confidence and trust on both sides," said Qureshi, adding: "we need to build comfort on all sides".

"We want these talks to be broad based and that is why I am proposing a completely different format for interaction between the two countries."

President Barack Obama's administration has sought to engage more deeply with Pakistan, which has long seen Washington as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

In January, Clinton unveiled a long-term, non-military strategy to stabilise both Afghanistan and Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment is high.

The plan calls for sending dozens of staff from the US Agency for International Development and other personnel to Pakistan by the end of the year to enhance oversight of contracts and improve the management of programmes developed with Islamabad.

It also calls for boosting Pakistan's capabilities to fight a growing Islamist insurgency and to enhance the US partnership with Islamabad, partly through supporting political and economic reforms.

Qureshi said the Pakistani foreign minister and US secretary of state should meet annually and the Pakistani foreign secretary and US regional envoy Richard Holbrooke should hold talks twice a year.

"I am also proposing 10 tracks of sectoral engagements in economy, energy, defence, education, science and technology, counter-terrorism strategic stability and non proliferation, health, communication, agriculture and public diplomacy," said Qureshi.

He said his engagements in Washington would "contribute to a better understanding of each other's position. We expect the US to understand our concerns both in the realm of security and economic development."