Obama to Zardari: Act against Terror Groups

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Oct 27 (IANS) Days before his visit to India, US President Barack Obama telephoned Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to talk about the need to do more to deal with terrorist groups in Pakistan that are a threat to his country and its neighbours.

Both Obama and Zardari "acknowledged that more work needed to be done to address the direct threat to our countries posed by terrorist groups in Pakistan," according to a White House readout of the conversation Tuesday.

"They also agreed that the US and Pakistan have worked hard to build an atmosphere of trust and cooperation, and committed to ongoing efforts to build a stronger, strategic, and more collaborative US-Pakistan relationship," it said.

Obama, who is not going to Pakistan on his trip to India and three other nations, "concluded the call by conveying his intention to visit Pakistan in 2011 and personally welcomed President Zardari to visit the United States in the coming year," The White House said.

Obama "called Pakistani President Asif Zardari to consult with him on the progress made during the recent US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, and to reinforce America's commitment to partner with Pakistan on economic, development, and governance priorities."

Obama emphasised the US commitment and support for democracy and transparency in Pakistan, highlighting that the US and Pakistan share an interest in ensuring democratic traditions in Pakistan are strengthened.

He also acknowledged Pakistan's economic difficulties, and encouraged Zardari to work to pass key economic reforms, such as tax reform and containing energy subsidies, the White House said.

Obama, according to sources, also sought to reassure the key US ally that America's relations with New Delhi did not affect its partnership with Pakistan.

He also told Zardari that his visit to India, so far his longest trip abroad, should not be seen as neglecting Pakistan. Obama reiterated the US desire to "helping Pakistan in helping us in Afghanistan", a subject also discussed extensively during the strategic dialogue, the sources said.


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