Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, March 18, 2004

US to designate Pakistan non-NATO ally: Powell

Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Islamabad Thursday the United States would designate Pakistan a "major non-NATO ally".


Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Islamabad Thursday the United States would designate Pakistan a "major non-NATO ally".

He was addressing a joint news conference with the Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri after an hour long talks in Islamabad on Thursday.

Powell said he has directed the State Department to notify to the Congress that Pakistan will be designated non-NATO ally for military to military relationship.

Powell arrived here Wednesday evening for talks with Kasuri, President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali onthe ongoing hunt for al-Qaeda terrorists, nuclear proliferation and peace moves between Pakistan and India.

Pakistan is the last leg of Powell's five-day South Asia tour that has taken him to India and Afghanistan.

Powell said Pakistan is taking on a number of difficult challenges of counter-terrorism, stopping proliferation, reforms in education and building strong democratic institutions. United States supports Pakistan's determination and courage.

He said US assistance to Pakistan is one of the largest programin the world. They are extending 3 billion dollars to Pakistan in five years which will help the country in education, basic health-care and access to clean drinking water. They are also providing 1.5 billion dollars in US debt relief.

Powell said the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM) is expanding its financing options in Pakistan for the sale of American products which is the sign of increasing importance to business relationship between the two countries.

The US secretary of state said President Bush is committed to along term partnership with Pakistan. He said Pakistan has important role to play in the region as a peaceful, moderate Muslim nation that has become increasingly democratic.

He said US President also appreciates the sacrifices Pakistan has already made and they share Pakistan's sadness in the losses of human life in the fight against terrorism.

He said both the countries recognized that their alliance is crucial to winning the war on terror.

Powell said Pakistan has important role to play in Afghanistan's recovery and reconstruction. The US Secretary of State said as Pakistan and the United States move forward there would be opportunities for greater cooperation in economic fields and military to military activities.

There is enormous respect in the United States for Pakistan andits people, said the US state secretary.

Pakistani military spokesman Shaukat Sultan just confirmed on Wednesday that 15 troops have lost lives in the latest operation Tuesday in South Waziristan tribal belt, in which 24 militants were also killed.

Source: Xinhua

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