Obama, Gilani vow to rescue troubled anti-terror alliance
SEOUL US PRESIDENT Barack Obama and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani vowed on Tuesday to rescue a troubled anti-terror alliance which almost ruptured over 10 months of mistrust and recriminations.
The leaders met on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, in the highest- level exchange between the two sides since the killing of Osama bin Laden in a clandestine US raid on Pakistani soil last May chilled ties.
More recently a new breach opened up over the mistaken killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November in US air strikes, which prompted Islamabad to curtail American drone strikes and cut NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.
“There have been times — I think we should be candid — over the last several months where those relations have had periods of strains,” Obama told reporters as the meeting opened.
“But I welcome the fact that the parliament of Pakistan is reviewing, after some extensive study, the nature of this relationship.
“I think it’s important to get it right. I think it’s important for us to have candid dialogue, to work through these issues.” Both leaders expressed a desire to stabilise and secure the situation in the long Afghan war, which has been beset by setbacks, including a massacre of Afghan civilians by a US soldier and attacks on NATO troops by their colleagues in the Afghan security forces.
“We are both interested in a stable and secure Afghanistan and a stable and secure region,” Obama said.
Gilani said: “We are committed to fighting against extremism. We want stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We want to work together with you,” he told Obama.
Pakistani lawmakers have demanded an American apology and taxes on NATO convoys in recommendations put to parliament, to be debated as a possible precursor to reopening NATO supply lines for the Afghan war.
Obama said he believed that the parliamentary review and discussions in the United States would produce a balanced approach that respected Pakistani sovereignty and US national security.
Pakistani-US relations plummeted after the killing of Al Qaeda leader bin Laden in a US Navy SEAL operation carried out without Islamabad’s knowledge. The raid was seen as a humiliation for Pakistan’s rulers and armed forces.