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Making good progress on reopening of land routes: Obama

By Lalit K Jha
May 22, 2012 10:59 IST
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The United States and Pakistan are making diligent progress on reopening of ground lines of communication to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said, after his brief meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari.

He also acknowledged tension prevailed between the two countries.

"We didn't anticipate that the supply line issue was going to be resolved by this summit. We knew that before we arrived in Chicago. But we are actually making diligent progress on it," Obama told reporters in Chicago at the conclusion of the two-day North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Summit.

Obama said his discussion with Zardari was very brief as they were walking into the summit. "I emphasised to him what we have emphasised publicly as well as privately. We think that Pakistan has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan; that it is in our  national interest to see a Pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable; that we share a common enemy in the extremists that are found not only in Afghanistan, but also within Pakistan; and that we need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably arisen after 10 years of our military presence in that region," he said.

Obama said Zardari shared with him his belief that these issues can be worked through.

Obama said everybody in the alliance, all of International Security Assistance Force and, most importantly, the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan understand that neither country was going to have the kind of security, stability and prosperity that it needs unless they can resolve some of these outstanding issues and join in common purpose with the international community in making sure that these regions are not harbouring extremists.

"So I don't want to paper over real challenges there," he said adding there was no doubt that there have been tensions between ISAF and Pakistan, the US and Pakistan over the last several months.

I think they are being worked through, both military and diplomatic channels, he noted.

"But ultimately, it is in our interest to see a successful, stable Pakistan, and it is in Pakistan's interests to work with us and the world community to ensure that they themselves are not consumed by extremism that is in their midst. And so we're going to keep on going at this. I think every NATO member, every ISAF member is committed to that," Obama said.

Obama, the White House said, met twice, including a brief one-on-one conversation as they made their way into the ISAF meeting this morning.

"Later this afternoon, the President had the chance to briefly speak with President Zardari and (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai, underscoring their shared commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation process to bring the war to a responsible end," the White House said.

This occurred shortly before the family photo, the statement said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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