Published On: Wed, Jan 22nd, 2014
Published in Category: Islamabad

Aid issue to be discussed in upcoming Pak-US strategic dialogue: FO

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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office hopes that the issue of financial assistance would be discussed in the upcoming Pakistan-United States strategic dialogue in Washington.

In an interview to American Radio on Tuesday, Foreign office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam has said that it is disappointing that US linked $33 million aid to Dr Shakil Afridi’s issue as it is against the efforts that are underway to extend mutual relations between the two states.

“Dr Shakil Afridi’s steps were proved to be a great blow to anti-polio drive, he is a national offender,” said FO spokesperson.

She hoped that Pak-US high level diplomatic contacts in Washington will talk over financial assistance to Pakistan, adding progress made by five working groups would also be reviewed that were made for mutual relationship, she added.

Tasneem Aslam stated that Advisor to Prime Minister for National Security and Narcotics, Sartaj Aziz will lead Pakistani delegation while State Minister John Kerry will lead his team in strategic dialogues.

President Obama had accorded his assent to the Consolidated Appropriations Bill 2014 on Friday following its approval by the US Congress.

The legislation required Pakistan to release Dr Shakil Afridi, failing which the Obama administration was directed to withhold $33m in annual assistance.

The FO said that Dr Afridi was a citizen of Pakistan, who violated the country’s laws and damaged the campaign against polio. Dr Afridi, it noted, remained entitled to due process under the law.

“Consequently, any linkage of US assistance to this case is not in keeping with the spirit of cooperation between the two countries,” she said.

The Foreign Office said that Pakistan and the United States were building a close and cooperative relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interest and hoped that the process would continue in a constructive manner.
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