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Govt of Pakistan taken on board on embassy expansion project: US

12 August, 2009

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ISLAMABAD: US Charge de Affairs Gerald M Feierstein has said government of Pakistan has been fully taken on confidence on the matter of expansion of US embassy in Islamabad.

"Government of Pakistan has been taken on board in connection with the expansion of US embassy. Foreign office is alive to our compulsions and fully supports us on the matter of extension in embassy and increase in strength of staff", he said this while addressing a press conference here Wednesday.

The primal objective of extension in embassy was to extend help to people of Pakistan in the challenges facing them besides ensuring US aid was spent in coordinated manner, he remarked.

He dispelled the impression that US had purchased 18 acre land at cheaper rates. "We respect the laws of Pakistan in this respect and the whole payment against cost of the land has been made", he held.

What reports about expansion of US embassy are flowing in are only half truth. Close friendly relations were prevailing between US and Pakistan, he said adding US embassy was playing a pivotal role to further boost these ties. US was taking every step to ensure every possible assistance for Pakistan in the perspective of war on terror and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), he asserted.

About $7.5 billions would be provided to Pakistan in five years under Kerry Lugar bill approved by US congress, he pointed out. Aid ranging between 350 to 400 million dollars was being extended to Pakistan as security assistance, he told. More office and diplomatic staff was needed to ensure this assistance was spent in more integrated and coordinated way, he underlined.

The existing US building was 40 years old and it had gone dilapidated, he said adding the expansion work had been started keeping in view these all requirements. This was not a new process as US embassies in Egypt and Iraq had also been expanded earlier, he indicated.

Two-thirds staff working in US embassy was Pakistani citizens and the remaining staff was US nationals, he told. More 50 percent staff would be enrolled for new building and majority of them would be Pakistanis. This staff would not stay for a longer period. Their stay can be extended only if duration of Kerry Lugar Bill is extended from 5 years to 10 years.

This project would be completed in five years at the cost of one billion dollars, he told. The media reports about arrival of hundreds of marines along with armored vehicles were unfounded. Marines in very small numbers would be deployed in US embassy for safety and security of buildings, he informed. The number of these marines would not exceed two dozens, he added. Request had been made to Washington for deployment of 20 to 25 marines for the safety of new building of embassy, he told. Marines house costing 112.5 million dollars would be constructed for these marines, he indicated.

He observed Pak-US relations witnessed ups and downs during the last 60 years, therefore, the bilateral ties could not attain stability at the level people of both the countries were looking forward to.

US of today was very different, he said adding Obama administration wanted to forge relations with the people of Pakistan which should base on the principles of mutual trust and respect. Certain elements in the society were out to make their agenda successful by inciting anti US sentiments, he added. But people of Pakistan wanted development, progress and prosperity besides moving forward side by side the world. Therefore, the incumbent US administration attached high importance to its relations with people of Pakistan, he underscored.

End.

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