Pakistan-US ties doing 'better than expected': Khar

Published Sep 21, 2012 06:44pm

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak to the media on September 21, 2012, shortly before their private bilateral meeting at the Department of State in Washington, DC. -AFP Photo

WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the US are repairing ties which had plunged to an all-time low, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Friday, despite violent anti-American protests rocking her country.

“The last 18 months were very, very difficult,” Khar said at the start of talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, adding the nations were doing “better than we could have expected to do in rebuilding the trust.”

The two women leaders were meeting at the State Department as violent protests flared for another day across Pakistan, targeting American diplomatic missions, and fueled by anger at an anti-Islam film which Muslims say insults their faith.

As Pakistani police fought back with gunshots and tear gas in five major cities, 15 people were killed and more than 200 wounded.

Anger in Pakistan has spiked since the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret US commando raid on his Pakistani compound in May 2011, and a US airstrike in November which killed more than 24 Pakistani troops.

The incidents saw relations plunge, as Islamabad closed border crossings into Afghanistan to Nato convoys, forcing them to take a longer, more expensive route to supply their troops, until the blockade was lifted in July.

But Khar insisted that after efforts to renew the relationship over the past few months “we stand at a time of opportunity.”

”At a time of opportunity to seize the trust deficit mantra and start building on the trust by walking the talk, that achieves the interests that are clearly common.”

Clinton said their shared top priority was “pursuing our joint counter-terrorism objectives to ensure the security of American and Pakistan citizens alike.”

The two nations “both recognized that we can achieve more when we work together on a focused agenda,” said Clinton who will meet with President Asif Ali Zardari next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“At each meeting we are working to identify the strategic goals we share, and there are many. And the concrete actions we can each take to accomplish them.”

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