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U.S.-Pakistan Education Dialogue

Remarks to the Press with Secretary Spellings and Minister Ashraf on the Occasion of the U.S.-Pakistan Education Dialogue

R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
As Prepared for Delivery
Washington, DC
November 29, 2006

I want to welcome Pakistan's Education Minister Javed Ashraf and Secretary Margaret Spellings to the first of what I hope will be many rounds of the U.S.- Pakistan Education Dialogue.

President Bush and our Administration sees South Asia as a key foreign policy priority. The strong and growing partnership between Pakistan and the United States is broad-based, strategic and long term.

Pakistan is a vital ally in the war on terror, and this aspect of our relationship often receives the most media attention. But our partnership is much more than that. President Bush and President Musharraf - both at their historic summit in March and during their most recent meeting in Washington in September -- are committed to a broad strategic partnership ranging from strengthening economic ties, expanding freedom and prosperity in Pakistan to the important event that brings us here: enhancing US Pakistani cooperation on education.

Both Presidents asked me and my counterpart, Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan, to host periodic Strategic Partnership meetings on a wide range of topics. We held the first such dialogue in April of this year, and I plan to travel to Islamabad early in 2007 to continue our discussions.

* What you are witnessing here is a vital component of this expanded partnership: the first meeting of the critical Education Dialogue. * As Secretary Spelling and Minister Ashraf will elaborate, US-Pakistani cooperation in education is flourishing.

+ Total U.S. spending in support of both basic and higher education in Pakistan between 2002 and 2007 is $265 million ( $178 million for basic education and $87 million for higher education). Last year, the United States provided $66 million to help improve Pakistani education, especially in the least developed regions of the country. + This involves major efforts to train teachers and school administrators; improve schools and raise adult literacy; and promote basic education especially at the primary level.

+ We have also committed funding for over 500 Fulbright Commission scholarships for post-graduate degree studies in the United States.

I hope that today's sessions can be informative, yet informal and frank. Views on Pakistan's education system will be discussed, and we look forward to hearing Pakistan's perspective from you, Minister Javed Ashraf.

Thank you again for traveling to be with us today, and we look forward to a constructive session.

Released on November 29, 2006


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