WASHINGTON: The United States will maintain its close ties with Pakistan, and there is absolutely no move to lower the vital relationship, the State Department said.
The US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington is alive to the importance of its relationship with Pakistan, and Secretary of State John Kerry is eager to visit the key South Asian country.
Psaki said Secretary Kerry’s conversations with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif confirm the importance of the relationship.
Asked if there was any move in Washington to downgrade its relationship with Pakistan “as interpreted by a part of the media on the basis of a report suggesting decline in US assistance for Pakistan”, the spokesperson forcefully responded, “Absolutely not.”
She reminded reporters that John Kerry has been a “big advocate” of aid for Pakistan, which has been extensive over the last several years.
“The Secretary is looking forward to visiting Pakistan. He would like to be able to spend some time on the ground. He recognizes the important relationship we have with Pakistan. As you know, he has also spoken with the Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) several times, actually, since he was elected. And I think that further confirms the importance of the relationship.”
On the question of next fiscal year’s aid levels, which vary yearly, the spokesperson said she would need to have a closer look at the Congressional Research Service report. However, she observed that as the budget is rolled out by the White House in Congress and worked through, she expected the details on funding would be the most accurate.
Pakistan gets annual economic and security assistance under $7.5 billion allocated under Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, and the Congressional Research Service report said next fiscal year, beginning October 1, 2013, Pakistan is expected to get $1.2 billion.