Kerry lauds Pak's efforts against terrorism, announces $250 million aid
Islamabad, Jan 13 (IBNS): Pakistan Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Pakistan's Islamabad on Tuesday for the fifth Ministerial level Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, where the later lauded the South Asian nation's efforts to fight terrorism.
"Secretary Kerry conveyed condolences on the tragic loss of lives in the terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on 16th December 2014. He expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan and appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism," the U.S. Department of State said in a statement.
Kerry also expressed appreciation for the sacrifices of Pakistan’s military personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism and extremism, and he commended Pakistan’s resolve and the steps being taken to tackle terrorism in a comprehensive and robust manner.
He welcomed assurances of Pakistan’s intent to dismantle all militant safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks.
Building on the concrete results being achieved by operation Zarb-e-Azb, the two leaders discussed Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen governance, expand development, and facilitate the return and rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons in the tribal areas.
Kerry also pledged to continue U.S. support for these efforts and has committed approximately $250 million to assist in the relief, return and rehabilitation of TDPs, and will continue discussions as needs emerge, the statement said.
The two leaders reviewed progress made in bilateral relations in the past year, and held wide-ranging discussions on sustaining and further building the momentum in bilateral cooperation.
Kerry conveyed that a strong, prosperous and democratic Pakistan is an essential partner for the United States in advancing the shared goal of a stable and peaceful region.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to an enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States, which is vital for regional security and stability.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue for providing vision and direction for a strong and cooperative partnership between the two countries.
They expressed satisfaction that the Working Groups constituted under the rubric of the Strategic Dialogue contribute to strengthening bilateral cooperation and advancing shared interests, including in Pakistan’s economic growth, increased trade and energy cooperation, regional stability, and countering extremism and terrorism.
Both sides reviewed the progress made by the Working Groups on (1) Economic and Finance; (2) Defense; (3) Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism; (4) Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation; and (5) Energy.
The two leaders affirmed their commitment to convene the inaugural session of the Working Group on Education, Science and Technology in 2015.
They also acknowledged the importance of ongoing cooperation through assistance authorized under legislation known as the “Kerry-Lugar-Berman” act. Finally, they decided that the Working Groups are to continue meeting according to a mutually determined schedule.
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