U.S. to Resume $300 Million Security Assistance to Pakistan

Agence France Presse (AFP)22.10.2013 North America
U.S. to Resume $300 Million Security Assistance to Pakistan

Source Reuters

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The U.S. State Department asked Congress to resume more than $300 million in security assistance to Pakistan, officials said on Sunday amid a visit by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“This is part of a long process of restarting security assistance cooperation after implementation was slowed during the bilateral challenges of 2011 and 2012,” Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Secretary of State John Kerry met with Sharif, marking Pakistan’s highest-level official visit to the United States in years.

“We have a lot to talk about and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important,” Kerry was quoted as saying by AFP at the start of the meeting.

He also called Pakistan a “democracy that is working hard to get its economy moving and deal with insurgency and also important to the regional stability.”

The State Department said Kerry and Sharif discussed counterterrorism cooperation, energy, trade and investment, and “the common interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan,” according to AFP.

The pair has also agreed on the importance of continued counterterrorism cooperation and that “extremism is countered in part by opportunities arising from greater economic stability,” the State Department said.

Sharif was elected in May and has been praised for his efforts to reduce tensions in South Asia. He is also due to meet President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

U.S. security assistance was interrupted since 2011 after U.S. commandos killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan and a U.S. airstrike left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.

Washington needs Pakistan's cooperation to withdraw thousands of pieces of heavy equipment from Afghanistan before NATO combat operations end in late 2014.

Pakistan would also help with reconciliation efforts between the Taliban and Afghan leaders.



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