NATO ready for 'political dialogue' with Pakistan
04 December, 2012
BRUSSELS: NATO has expressed readiness for political dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan and stressed the importance of its ties with the country in the fight against "terrorism" as the military alliance prepares the way for its 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"Most urgently, we need to remain united to defeat terrorism," NATO head Andres Fogh Rasmussen told visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. "At NATO we understand well that Pakistan has paid a high price in these efforts. The alliance stands together with you to combat this scourge," Rasmussen said in a statement.
It is "clear that the pursuit of peace and security in your region is in the interest of the broader international community. That includes peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan has a particular role to play," he said.
The statement said Khar also held talks with the North Atlantic Council, NATO's government body, where officials voiced their readiness to "develop political dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan." They also stressed that "Pakistan's positive engagement was needed to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region," it said.
NATO foreign ministers, led by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are due to meet Tuesday and Wednesday at alliance headquarters in Brussels for talks at which Afghanistan will be a top agenda item.
Khar discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest with the NATO secretary general. The foreign minister said that Pakistan had a strong and long history of cooperation with the NATO and that it was committed to working closely for the common objective of peace and stability in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
Briefing the secretary general about Pakistan's commitments to improving relations with Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that sincere efforts were being made by her country to build trust between the two countries at all levels.
Rasmussen commended the role Pakistan has played to fight a common threat of terrorism and extremism and assured that NATO would remain its steadfast partner in this regard. He also assured the foreign minister that the NATO regarded Pakistan as an important player, both regionally and globally, and that the two sides had a common stake to jointly work towards creating an environment necessary for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. He said that NATO was committed to turning its relationship with Pakistan into a strategic partnership. It also wanted to reinvigorate its political dialogue with Pakistan and to move beyond 2014.
The NATO chief thanked the government of Pakistan for concluding a transit agreement with the military alliance. Talking about the situation in Afghanistan, he said that NATO was committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and assured that it would not leave a security vacuum in that country after its withdrawal in 2014.
Rasmussen also appreciated Pakistan's response to the recent visit of Afghan High Peace Council and for playing a very positive and strong role for political reconciliation in Afghanistan. Later, the foreign minister also addressed the North Atlantic Council and briefed them on the regional situation with particular reference to the efforts Pakistan was making for peace and stability in Afghanistan.