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N-deal with India made under special circumstances: US
K J M Varma in Islamabad | June 28, 2006 14:19 IST
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has said the nuclear deal with India was made under "special circumstances" and declined to give any commitment on extending the arrangement to Pakistan.
"The deal we made with India is under special circumstances," Rice said after holding talks with President Pervez Musharraf and a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri in Islamabad on Tuesday night.
Asked whether Pakistan has raised the issue of extending the US-India nuclear deal, she said Washington is having very "fruitful" discussions with Islamabad on how to provide "reliable, safe and clean" energy.
Her comments came barely hours before a US Congressional Committee endorsed a deal for sharing civilian nuclear energy with India.
During her talks with Musharraf, Rice told him that the US expected the military backed government to hold 2007's general elections in a free and fair manner.
"I have had discussions with the president, with the foreign minister, with the prime minister about the importance that the world and the international community, friends of Pakistan, attach to a process next year that results in free and fair elections," she said.
She said the international community would watch all aspects of the poll process, including freedom for candidates to "assemble and campaign", which political parties in Islamabad considered as a reference to the government's reluctance to permit former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return to take part in polls.
Noting that there are expectations that Pakistan is going to take a step on the road to democracy, Rice said, "It is not just a matter of election day, it is a matter of access to press, it is a matter of access to be able to assemble and to campaign. We've been very clear about all of that."
"I have heard the commitment of the foreign minister and of the president and of the prime minister and others to that process. And we will certainly support it because everybody expects that process to take place," she said.
"We have had a discussion of the role that the further democratisation of Pakistan will play on that road to enlightened moderation, including the importance of the upcoming elections in 2007, and we look forward to further discussions of those matters," she said.
Rice said her visit to Pakistan was a follow up to review the progress made after the March visit of President George Bush.
"We've had an excellent discussion of our broad and deep relationship. The United States does indeed consider Pakistan a strategic partner and a good friend. We have talked not only about our counter-terrorism cooperation, which of course is essential to the stability and security of the United States, of Pakistan and of this region and indeed of the world, but we have also had a chance to review the progress that has been made since the president's visit to Islamabad in March, progress along broad fronts," she said.
Rice also said that her visit to Islamabad and Kabul was to press both the countries to deal with the threat posed by Al Qaeda and Taliban.
"This is a very difficult time for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are attacks by these terrorists against both these countries and I think they are united in wanting to beat them," she said.