Readout of the President’s Meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani
President Obama today met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at Blair House on the margins of Pakistan’s participation in the Nuclear Security Summit. The President was joined by Secretary of State Clinton and the Prime Minister was joined by Foreign Minister Qureshi.
President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan, having visited the country during college. The leaders reaffirmed the positive relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, a relationship of significant importance because of the shared values of our countries and the fight we are both engaged in against extremists operating in South Asia. The President also noted that our multi-faceted and long-term strategic relationship goes far beyond security issues.
The President expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister for the quick reaction of Pakistani security forces to the terrorist attack on our Consulate in Peshawar on April 5 and expressed his condolences at the Pakistani casualties from that attack and the attack on a political event in Lower Dir on the same day. He commented that these two attacks on the same day are important to note because the extremists do not distinguish between us and we are truly facing a common enemy.
The President discussed with the Prime Minister the bilateral progress made during the March 24-25 Strategic Dialogue and reiterated the U.S. pledge to work with Pakistan to address issues of mutual concern in the long-term relationship. The Prime Minister also indicated his approval of the progress made during the Strategic Dialogue and his hope that the working groups that have been established to address various aspects of the relationship would yield progress in advance of the next Strategic Dialogue meeting, scheduled for late 2010 in Islamabad.
The Prime Minister noted that his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit comes at a time when popular support for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is growing. By way of example, the Prime Minister noted that prior to embarking for the United States, he met with the National Command Authority, both houses of parliament, the political opposition, and military leaders. The President indicated his appreciation of that broad-based sentiment and used, addressing the topic of the conference, reasserted the importance of nuclear security, a priority he has reiterated for all countries. The Prime Minister indicated his assurance that Pakistan takes nuclear security seriously and has appropriate safeguards in place.
The Prime Minister also expressed his appreciation for the broad U.S. assistance program to Pakistan, a multi-faceted effort to make progress on various sectors including: economy, trade, education, infrastructure, security. He noted that energy is an existing and growing problem. The President reiterated that we are committed to helping Pakistan address its real and growing energy needs and noted that he is pleased that implementation is proceeding on the $125m in energy-sector projects Secretary Clinton announced in October.