By Ali Imran
CHICAGO, May 22 : President Barack Obama acknowledged that the United States and Pakistan need to work through challenges in their bilateral relationship as he reported “diligent” progress towards resumption of Pakistani NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, closed since the November 2011 deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in cross-border airstrikes.
Obama, speaking after a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NATO summit on Monday, said a democratic, prosperous and stable Pakistan will be in America’s interest.
“ President Zardari shared with me his belief that these issues can get worked through. We didn’t anticipate that the supply line issue was going to be resolved by this summit. We knew that before we arrived in Chicago. But we’re actually making diligent progress on it,” Obama said in his hometown and the third largest American city.
“We think that Pakistan has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan, that it is in our national interest to see a Pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable, that we share a common enemy in the extremists that are found not only in Afghanistan, but also within Pakistan and that we need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably arisen after 10 years of our military presence in that region,” the U.S. president stated.
He was responding to a question at a news conference as the NATO and ISAF partners concluded a two-day meeting on winding down the Afghan war and future engagement with the landlocked country, where a lingering conflict, started in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, and the Taliban insurgency have severely impacted on Pakistan’s security .
Continuing his reply, Obama noted, “ultimately everybody in the alliance, all of ISAF, and most importantly the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan understand that neither country is going to have the kind of security, stability, and prosperity that it needs unless they can resolve some of these outstanding issues and join in common purpose with the international community in making sure that these regions are not harboring extremists.”
“So I don’t want to paper over real challenges there. There is no doubt that there have been tensions between ISAF and Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan over the last several months. I think they are being worked through both military and diplomatic channels,” he said
“But ultimately, it is in our interest to see a successful, stable Pakistan and it is in Pakistan’s interest to work with us and the world community to ensure that they themselves are not consumed by extremism that is in their midst. And so we’re going to keep on going at this. And I think every NATO member, every ISAF member is committed to that.,” he remarked.
Sources: MGCT, White House, NATO
- Secretary Clinton, President Zardari discussed moving forward US-Pakistan ties: Grossman (myglobalcommunitytoday.wordpress.com)
- Making diligent progress on reopening of land routes: Obama (thehindu.com)
- Pakistan president to attend NATO summit; US expects wonderful signal on reopening supply routes (myglobalcommunitytoday.wordpress.com)
- Obama Presses Pakistani President to Open Supply Routes (abcnews.go.com)
- Obama: NATO United in Afghanistan Plan (blogs.voanews.com)