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Top US officials brief Pak Prez on NY bomb plot

By Rezaul H Laskar
May 19, 2010 19:13 IST
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Top US security officials briefed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday, on the probe into the botched car bombing in New York by a Pakistani-American and discussed measures to prevent "potential attacks."

US National Security Advisor James L Jones and Central Intelligence Agency chief Leon Panetta, who arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday, called on Zardari at the presidency this afternoon. "Jones and Panetta provided an update on the ongoing investigation into the Times Square terrorist incident," said a joint statement issued after the meeting. Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistan Air Force officer, was arrested for the attempted car bomb attack in New York's Times Square. Jones expressed appreciation for the "excellent cooperation" the US is receiving from Pakistan and for the sacrifices of the Pakistani military, law enforcement and people in efforts to combat extremists, the statement said.

The talks between Zardari and the US security officials also "covered measures that both countries are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again," the statement said. Both sides "acknowledged the extreme challenge of thwarting each and every plot and terrorist action" and "pledged to intensify efforts, increase cooperation and do everything possible to protect" their citizens, the statement added. The statement described the discussions between Zardari and the US officials as "productive" and said the two sides covered "US-Pakistan relations, the security situation in the region, the shared terrorist threat and fight against extremists, and the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue."

Zardari said Pakistan desires a long-term, multifaceted and durable relationship with the US "which no incident should be able to adversely impact." Militancy and terrorism were a common enemy and the existing "robust cooperation" between the two countries must continue to fight the menace, he said. Jones reiterated the US's long-term commitment to the strategic partnership with Pakistan, including support for creating economic opportunity for the Pakistani people. The talks also provided an opportunity to review progress on many areas addressed in the recent strategic dialogue held in Washington, the statement said.

Both sides expressed their commitment to strengthen ties "across the broad spectrum of issues between our countries, including trade, economic growth, and development." They also agreed to continue frequent government-to-government contacts and further senior level engagement to advance common interests and provide a better, more secure future for the people of Pakistan and the US, the statement said. Panetta and Jones were accompanied by US Ambassador Anne Patterson and other senior officials.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir also attended the meeting.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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