US - Pakistan Relations Under Obama

Obama pledges to work closely with Pakistan
* US president pledges to seek stronger partnerships with governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan
* Names Holbrooke special envoy for Pakistan, Afghanistan
Daily Times, January 23, 2009

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed to work closely with Pakistan and deepen engagement with the people of the South Asian country as part of efforts to overcome security challenges along the Pak-Afghan border through a regional approach that will also focus on the creation of economic opportunities for the people of two countries.

Partnership: “We will seek stronger partnerships with the governments of the region, sustain cooperation with our NATO allies, deepen engagement with the Afghan and Pakistani people and a comprehensive strategy to combat terror and extremism,” said Obama while naming former diplomat Richard Holbrooke as America’s special representative for the two countries, in the presence of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

Envoy: On his maiden visit to the State Department, Obama was confident that Holbrooke would be able to help forge and implement a ‘strategic and sustainable’ US approach in the critical region.

However, he said that progress would not come immediately in Afghanistan, as the Taliban violence had escalated ‘dramatically’ and the narcotics problem had worsened. He also criticised the Afghan government’s failure in delivering basic services.

The new US president also pledged to work towards “achievable goals that contribute to our collective security”.

Ambassador Holbrooke, 67 – who served as US ambassador to the United Nations – is credited with negotiating Dayton peace accords in 1995 that ended the Bosnian conflict.

In his brief remarks, Holbrooke said he would coordinate a foreign assistance programme in the two countries to bring coherence in the US efforts.

Also, former Senate Majority leader George Mitchell was assigned the task to oversee US policy on the Middle East. Obama said the new envoy would head to the Middle East as soon as possible, “in a bid to get lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians”. He also called on Israel to open Gaza border crossings to aid and commerce, as part of a lasting ceasefire following the conflict with Hamas. agencies

Also See:
SCENARIOS-Holbrooke faces big test in Afghanistan/Pakistan - Reuters
Obama says Pakistan, Afghanistan require wider strategy - AFP
Appointing Emissaries, Obama and Clinton Stress Diplomacy - New York Times
ANALYSIS: Obama, Pakistan and Afghanistan —Najmuddin A Shaikh - Daily Times

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