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NATO and Pakistan ready to deepen political dialogue

On 4 June, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, accompanied by a large government and parliamentary delegation, met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and addressed the North Atlantic Council at NATO Headquarters. Discussions focused on the fight against terrorism, NATO-Pakistan relations, and the security situation in Afghanistan and the broader region.

The Secretary General and Prime Minister Gilani agreed that NATO, Pakistan and Afghanistan share a common interest: to defeat the terrorism that threatens the region as well as the international community.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen commended Pakistan for the great efforts and real sacrifices it is making in the fight against terrorism.

He also praised the Prime Minister’s personal leadership in improving relations with Pakistan’s neighbours, as these are key for the region’s stability. “It is also vital that Pakistan and Afghanistan work together to tackle a menace that does not respect borders,” he said.

Addressing the NATO-Pakistan relationship, the Secretary General and the Prime Minister agreed on the need for NATO and the Pakistani Government to deepen their cooperation and to develop further their political dialogue.

Prime Minister Gilani said: “It is a matter of satisfaction for us that NATO and Pakistan are continuing with regular contacts and consultations, including at the highest level on all matters of mutual interest. …We would like to continue with our cooperation with NATO on every issue of mutual concern, especially the ones relating to the war against terror.”

The Secretary General agreed with the Prime Minister that NATO and Pakistan should expand the political dialogue. “And personally, I attach very strong importance to a dialogue with the parliamentarians as we have had today,” he said.

A number of high-level meetings recently took place between NATO and Pakistan, including President Asif Zardari’s and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visits to NATO Headquarters in June 2009 and February 2010 respectively. Deputy Assistant Secretary General Robert Simmons also visited Islamabad in May this year for an exchange of views with Pakistani authorities on a range of issues of common interest.

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