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Pakistan wants to have excellent relations with US: Gilani

February 23, 2012 19:14 IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said Islamabad wants to have "excellent relations with the United States" and said both countries along with Kabul

need to be "on the same page" in efforts aimed at boosting national reconciliation and stability in war-torn Afghanistan.

Gilani emphasized the need for a "mutually acceptable strategy to achieve shared goals" during a meeting with a visiting US Congressional delegation. A "military solution does not provide a permanent solution", he remarked.

"It was important that Afghanistan, Pakistan and US were on the same page and worked together to promote mutually national reconciliation, peace and stability in Afghanistan," Gilani was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

Pakistan supports "the political process leading to political settlement in Afghanistan" and this was discussed in details with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his recent visit to Islamabad, he said.

Gilani conveyed his government's "serious concerns" about a resolution tabled by a Congressman in the US House of Representatives seeking the right to self-determination  for Balochistan and said the people "expect the US to be mindful and respectful of Pakistan's national interests" as well as its security and territorial integrity.

The resolution tabled by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has emerged as the latest irritant in Pakistan-US ties which have been affected by a series of crises since last year. Gilani had earlier described the resolution as an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty.

Gilani said Pakistan wants to have "excellent relations with US" and it was important to forge a partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect. Pakistan had made "numerous sacrifices in the war against terror", he said.

"The whole nation is united and the democratic government has given political ownership to the anti-terrorism campaign," he said.

Gilani further told the Congressmen that the unilateral US actions such as drone strikes were "unacceptable and counter-productive". Gilani also noted that Pakistan had taken steps to improve relations with India.

Members of the Congressional delegation led by David Dreier, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, said both Republicans and Democrats and the US government were against the resolution tabled by Rohrabacher.

The US supports Pakistan's security and territorial integrity, they said. The Congressmen agreed that the trust deficit between the two countries should be removed and that the US Congress and Pakistan's parliamentarians could play an important role in this regard.

The Congressmen agreed that trade, and not aid, was the way towards economic development, promoting education and poverty alleviation, and combating the root causes of extremism and terrorism.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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