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U.S. says not 'impinging' on Pakistan's sovereignty

RIA Novosti

04:41 16/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The United States is not tying to 'impinge' on the sovereignty of Pakistan and fully supports the country in the fight against terrorism, a U.S. Department of State spokesperson said.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation on Thursday, the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, providing Pakistan with $7.5 billion in aid over the next five years.

"A statement that was issued by Senators Kerry, Lugar, and Berman about reassuring Pakistan that the United States... is not trying to impinge on its sovereignty and that this bill is, in essence... is a vote of confidence of the American people in the Government of Pakistan and its people," Robert Wood, a deputy department spokesman, told a daily press briefing.

The bill has come under fierce criticism in Pakistan, with the country's opposition claiming such a large package could prove dangerous for the country's sovereignty.

Pakistan's military is upset because the release of some of the funds is conditional on the fight against Islamic militants, seen by critics as interference in country's internal affairs. Pakistan has been rocked by a series of deadly attacks by suspected Taliban militants in recent weeks.

Wood added that with the signing of the bill the United States "made very clear that we are going to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to fight terrorism... And so we're with Pakistan in this fight. It's a very difficult fight. It's an arduous fight. It's likely to be a long fight. But the will is there, and we will work with them and support them as best we can."

Besides fighting militants, the aid is designed to fund various projects in Pakistan, including schools and roads, agricultural development, energy generation, water resource management, and the judicial system.

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