President Zardari reiterates call for bridging Pak-US trust deficit
* President tells US lawmakers drone attacks undermine cooperative equation
ISLAMABAD: US Congressional delegation, headed by Todd Platts, on Tuesday called on President Asif Ali Zardari at the Presidency.
The delegation included representatives Stephen Lynch, Glenn Thompson, Tom Marino, John Fleming and Jack Kingston. US Ambassador Cameron Munter and other US officials were also present.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik, Secretary General to the President Salman Faruqui, Senator Sughra Imam, Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, Acting Foreign Secretary Fouzia Sana and Additional Foreign Affairs Secretary Asif Durrani were also present.
Pak-US relations, war against terror and overall regional situation were discussed during the meeting.
The president reiterated his call for the two sides to work closely for bridging the trust deficit, cooperating with each other on clearly defined parameters on the basis of mutual interest and respect.
He said that Pakistan was committed to building a strong, sustainable and enduring relationship with the US that was based on principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, trust, understanding and cooperation.
He emphasised that drone attacks were counterproductive and undermined the cooperative equation of the two countries.
The president also expressed the hope that the US would show greater understanding of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan who were greatly hurt by the incident of Salala checkpost.
Discussing regional situation, Zardari reiterated that a genuine Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process was the only viable solution to the Afghan conflict and all efforts should be focused on promoting an all-inclusive reconciliation process.
Representative Todd Platts thanked the president for meeting and said that US wanted to re-engage Pakistan and help the people in all possible manners.
Separately, the delegation called on Hina Rabbani Khar at the Foreign Office.
There is a standoff between Islamabad and Washington over the drone attacks and apology over the Salala incident due to which NATO supplies remained suspended since November last year.
In the last two months, Pak-US dialogue over the NATO supply routes made no breakthrough. On Monday, Washington called back its negotiators. The foreign minister conveyed to the US parliamentarians the sense of parliament regarding the Salala incident and recommendations of parliament for re-engagement with the US. She also informed the US representatives about the regional situation.
Parliamentary recommendations sought unconditional apology from the US over the Salala incident in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed and end to drone attacks. Washington is reluctant to accept the two recommendations.
She urged the US lawmakers that the relationship was important and both sides simply could not afford to ignore this fact, adding that both sides had shared goals of peace and prosperity in the region. The delegation agreed on the need to overcome the current stress and work for building a holistic relationship. They also agreed that steps should be taken to boost public confidence on both sides. I