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Statement By John D. Negroponte In Pakistan


Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 17, 2007

Statement by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in Islamabad, Pakistan

The following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte upon his departure from Islamabad, Pakistan:

Good morning. I would like to make a brief statement before taking a few questions and departing for Washington.

During this brief trip to Islamabad, I had meetings with President Musharraf and other senior Pakistani government officials, including National Security Advisor Aziz, Vice Chief of Army Staff General Kayani, former Foreign Minister Kasuri, and Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Taj. I also spoke by phone with Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto.

In my meeting with President Musharraf, he reiterated his vision for a moderate, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan. Under his leadership, Pakistan has made great progress toward that vision. Over the past few years, the Pakistani people have witnessed expanded and freer media, unprecedented economic growth and development, and the moderation of gender-based laws and school curricula. President Musharraf has been and continues to be a strong voice against extremism. We value our partnership with the Government of Pakistan under the leadership of President Musharraf.

We welcome President Musharraf's announcement that elections will take place in January, a commitment he repeated to me yesterday in categorical terms. He also repeated his commitment to retire from his army post before commencing his second presidential term, and we urge him to do so as soon as possible.

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Unfortunately, the recent police actions against protestors, suppression of the media, and the arrests of political and human rights leaders run directly counter to the reforms that have been undertaken in recent years. Their continuation undermines the progress Pakistan has made.

I urged the Government to stop such actions, lift the state of emergency, and release all political detainees. Emergency rule is not compatible with free, fair, and credible elections, which require the active participation of political parties, civil society, and the media. The people of Pakistan deserve an opportunity to choose their leaders free from the restrictions that exist under a state of emergency.

Looking to the future, the United States believes that the best way for any country to counter violent extremism is to develop and nurture a moderate political center. We believe this is true for Pakistan as well, and in my talks I encouraged reconciliation between political moderates as the most constructive way forward. A democratic Pakistan that continues the fight against terror is vital to the interests of both the United States and Pakistan. In the current circumstances, engagement and dialogue - not brinksmanship and confrontation - should be the order of the day for all parties.

The United States supports the Pakistani people in their efforts to develop a prosperous and democratic nation.

2007/1020

ENDS

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