BRUSSELS: Nato stressed Monday the importance of its ties with Pakistan in the fight against “terrorism” as the military alliance prepares the way for its 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Most urgently, we need to remain united to defeat terrorism,” Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen told visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
“At Nato we understand well that Pakistan has paid a high price in these efforts. The alliance stands together with you to combat this scourge,” Rasmussen said in a statement.
It is “clear that the pursuit of peace and security in your region is in the interest of the broader international community. That includes peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan has a particular role to play,” he said.
The statement said Khar also held talks with the North Atlantic Council, Nato's government body, where officials voiced their readiness to “develop political dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan.” They also stressed that “Pakistan's positive engagement was needed to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” it said.
Nato foreign ministers, led by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are due to meet Tuesday and Wednesday at alliance headquarters in Brussels for talks at which Afghanistan will be a top agenda item.
Nato has some 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, about two-thirds of them US soldiers, but plans to withdraw them progressively by 2014 as Afghan forces take over security.