Clinton Calls for Better Partnership with Pakistan
Washington - The United States seeks to be a partner with Pakistan in economic development and trade, education, health care, energy development and regional security, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says.
Clinton, who wrapped up a three-day visit to Pakistan October 30, told business leaders at a roundtable discussion in Lahore that the United States is proud and pleased to be Pakistan's largest trading partner and its largest foreign investor. "We have seen the opportunities for investment and growth," she added.
She acknowledged that it is difficult for the business community - which creates the jobs, creates the businesses and makes the investments - to flourish in an unstable environment created by an insurgency that has spilled over from neighboring Afghanistan. She said the United States sees several ways to help create more jobs in Pakistan, which will directly affect the standard of living.
One is through direct programs such as the creation of reconstruction opportunity zones which can open market access to the United States, Clinton said. "We are working to accelerate this approach because it's essential that we provide more assistance in trade and investment and help to improve the environment for you to do more business."
Another is to encourage the government to do more through trade agreements, she said, and not just with the United States but with the immediate region and beyond.
Clinton also said that through a $125 million U.S. energy initiative, which she announced October 28 in Islamabad, the Pakistani government will help eliminate rolling energy blackouts by repairing facilities, repairing dams and improving local energy providers, and help to refurbish more than 10,000 tube wells to enhance local agriculture through reliable irrigation.
Clinton told business leaders that for any society to flourish in the 21st century, it must build a nation on three supporting pillars: a fully inclusive democratic political system, a market economy and a civil society.
Clinton said in remarks to students at the Government College University in Lahore October 29 that as crucial as security issues are between the United States and Pakistan, they are not the only element in the relationship.
"They are just one piece of a much broader partnership, one that we hope will improve the lives of people in both our nations in many ways," she said. "How many children who are denied an education or denied health care might have excelled at this great university, perhaps even joining the ranks of your Nobel laureate?"
"We don't know, because although talent is universal, opportunity is not."
Clinton said the Obama administration is placing heavy emphasis on approaches such as increasing access to education, supporting entrepreneurs, using microfinance and technology to connect and empower people, and increasing energy supplies so the economy has the resources it needs to thrive.
"We are committed to working with you as true partners, and that means, first and foremost, listening and consulting with one another," Clinton said. "This is an opportunity for us to reaffirm our partnership and to turn the page on some of the past that, frankly, represent lost opportunities to strengthen the relationship between us."
One of those efforts, Clinton said, is to expand university and technical education through a $45 million grant to Pakistan's Higher Education Commission. It is primarily targeted to students coming from economically vulnerable areas, she said.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE
In addition to Clinton's three-day visit to Pakistan for consultations with government officials and outreach to university students, business leaders and tribal representatives, she will also conduct negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials in hopes of renewing stalled peace talks. She was scheduled to fly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for a meeting October 31 with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. She is also expected to consult with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"These meetings will build on the intensive work the administration has engaged in with both sides since the trilateral meeting last month," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said October 29 in Washington.
"As President Obama has said, the administration is committed to comprehensive peace, including a two-state solution. As Secretary Clinton reported to the president last week, challenges remain as we continue to work with both sides," Kelly said. "Her visit reflects the administration's commitment, and her personal commitment, to work through the challenges we face in pursuit of comprehensive Middle East peace."
Clinton will conclude her travel November 2-3 at the 6th Forum for the Future in Marrakesh, Morocco.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov).