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Ambassador Grossman calls on President Zardari

Islamabad: United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman called on President Asif Ali Zardari here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Saturday.

Ambassador Grossman was accompanied by Acting US Ambassador Richard Hoagland, Lt. Gen, Douglas E. Lute, Dr. Peter Lavoy and other US officials.

Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Secretary General M. Salman Faruqui, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and other officials were present in the meeting from Pakistan’s side.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, while briefing newsmen about the meeting, said that Pak-US bilateral situation, fight against militancy, regional situation, drug trafficking and drone attacks were discussed during the meeting.

The President said that it was important for the two countries to work for greater engagements in all fields and to revive mutual confidence to move forward in pursuit of mutual interests and in the interest for peace and stability.

The President expressed the hope that the Foreign Minister’s forthcoming visit to Washington would help jump-starting the bilateral strategic dialogue.

On Afghanistan, the President said that the peace and stability of Pakistan depended on peace and stability of Afghanistan and that Pakistan would continue to assist the international community in a search for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in that country.

He said that the two countries shared a common objective to defeat Al-Qaeda and terrorism and that it could best be achieved through coordinated actions across the border.

The President said that Pakistan believed that drug-trafficking and heroine was a major issue as it provided financial backing to the militants.He said that heroine was developed by the international community as a war weapon and it was now for the international community to find a solution to it.He said that Pakistan would be hosting a conference of the regional countries at the end of this year to formulate a common strategy in fighting drug production, heroine and narco trade in the region to dry up the financial sources of militancy.

On terrorism, the President said that Pakistan had been extending full support to the international fight against terrorism and would continue to do so in the future as well.He said that Pakistan would continue lending every support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

The President also reiterated his call for an end to the drone attacks, terming them counterproductive in the fight against militancy and in the battle of winning hearts. We need to discuss alternatives on the question of drone attacks, he added.

He said that the goal of establishing a long-term, sustained and durable Pak-US equation would remain elusive till the issue of trust deficit was addressed in an effective manner.

The President also expressed grave concern and condemned the anti-Islam film produced in the US that has sparked protest demonstrations in a number of countries.He said that rationality and tolerance was fast eroding and stressed the need for collective action to stop inflaming religious sentiments of any community or people of any faith.

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