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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with Asif Ali Zardari, right, president of Pakistan, while the two are in New York Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 . — Photo by AP

NEW YORK: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday as the two nation’s inch towards repairing vital ties severely damaged by a series of crises.

“I would certainly say that they are moving upwards, in a positive direction,” a senior State Department official said, asked about how relations between the two nations were doing after several high-level meetings.

“I don't want to overestimate or oversell what's occurred,” he added.

“I think we've been working in a very diligent, disciplined, workman-like manner over the course of these last 18 months which have been very difficult, and especially over the last several months... to get this back on track.”

Ties between Washington and Islamabad plunged to new lows after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid deep inside Pakistan in May 2011 and after the deaths of 24 Pakistani troops in a US airstrike in November.

The US official said the two sides were moving forward by focusing on “specific, incremental steps” to pursue their common interests.

“I'm very comfortable with the direction that this is headed, but... we want to be realistic and clear-eyed.” Clinton greeted Zardari as “my friend” and introduced him to the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, whom she said she had just been sworn in so he could attend their talks.

She also thanked him for Pakistan's handling of several days of violent anti-US protests, triggered by an amateur anti-Islam film made in the United States.

“We very much appreciate the strong response of your government,” she said.

Zardari said it had been “a difficult time for all of us.” Pakistan was rocked by days of protests in its major cities as demonstrations have swept Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia over the film.

“One or two insane persons should not be allowed to endanger world peace in the garb of freedom of expression,” Zardari said in the meeting, according to a statement from the Pakistan embassy.

US officials said the offer of a $100,000 bounty by Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour for the killing of the maker of the film “Innocence of Muslims” was denounced by the Pakistani leadership at the talks.

“As part of the delegation today was the leader of the party, the AMP, which the railways minister is part of, who also very explicitly disassociated his party from those statements,” the US official said.

He said the party would meet soon “to decide what to do with that minister” as part of an internal process on how to deal with the situation, adding both delegations had echoed “that anyone who provokes violence cannot be tolerated.”

Clinton and Zardari also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and how to cooperate in achieving stability there.

Peace and stability in Pakistan were tied to peace and stability in Afghanistan, Zardari insisted.

“No country has paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than Pakistan,” he said, in the statement.

Updated Sep 25, 2012 03:14am

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Comments (5) (Closed)


sadia
Sep 25, 2012 06:33am
Pak-US relations can't be bilateral. we have nothing on equal footings with US. we can't develop our economy by taking adds from US, IMF or WB . we are producing more terrorist then vanishing them. come on be focused. our policies changing with the changing trends of world politics but there is no change in them by considering grave situation of country. while having programs like "By-Nazir income support" we can't expect reduction in unemployment. why Govt want to give "roti, kapra, makan" and why don't they make effort to create an environment in which people get able to do that for themselves in better way?
fahdabbasy
Sep 25, 2012 06:01am
why did the president not bind US for action against the film maker and making international law for strict punishment against any such action in future?
asifiqbal787787@gmail.com
Sep 25, 2012 04:36am
Just yesterday, most Pakistanis hated US and now they are gingerly improving their ties.
Concerned Citizen
Sep 25, 2012 03:26am
Same old same old......
asgher
Sep 25, 2012 08:20am
SOLVE THREE ISSUES ELECTRICITY EDUCATION FLOODS ignore the rest.