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NATO to bolster military cooperation with Pakistan: SG

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 21, IRNA -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will bolster military and political cooperation with Pakistan for peace and stability of the region, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen, who held talks with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad, also said NATO will not leave the war ravaged Afghanistan prematurely.

Addressing a joint news conference along with Qureshi, the NATO Secretary General expressed his strong desire for deepening political as well as military relations with Pakistan.

“I have suggested initiating a work hopefully leading to strengthened political consultation as well military to military cooperation,” he said.

He lauded Pakistan's efforts for peace and stability in the region and said the alliance considers Islamabad a very important player in the region and is desirous of long term partnership with it. He also commended Pakistan 's military operations in the tribal belt to improve the security.

Appreciating the Afghan-Pakistan transit trade arrangement, he expressed the confidence that this will also contribute towards not only achieving the common objective of peace and security but also socio economic development of the region.

The NATO secretary general reiterated alliance's long term commitment in Afghanistan saying it will not leave the war ravaged country prematurely. “Obviously our goal is to hand over responsibility to the Afghans themselves when conditions permit”.

He said the alliance will assist to build the capacity of Afghan Army and police, adding the allied forces are not creating any militant Afghan group to counter Al-Qaeda and Taliban but they are preparing Afghan forces to counter them besides making efforts to improve socio-economic conditions of the common man in the country.

He stressed that gradual transition from Afghanistan will not be driven by calenderer but conditions on the ground.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan and NATO are working closely for regional stability and to achieve their shared objectives.

He said during the talks, the NATO secretary general proposed a new framework of engagement for political and military level consultation between the two sides. He said Pakistan welcomes the proposal as it wants to build on useful partnership which goes beyond Afghanistan.

He rejected Hillary Clinton's claim about al-Qaeda leadership's presence in Pakistan and said Pakistan is partner in the war against terrorism and is playing a key role to achieve common objectives. He said Pakistan's intentions should not be doubted and it is ready to take action in this regard if any credible information is provided.


End News / IRNA / News Code 1239691

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