Nides’ visit to Pakistan ‘constructive for future’: US

The United States has said it sees Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nide’s visit to Islamabad as constructive in terms of diplomatic engagement with Pakistan and looks forward to moving the bilateral relations forward upon conclusion of the parliamentary review.

Deputy Spokesman at the State Department Mark Toner described Nides’ visit – coming at a time of biateral tensions and differences over anti-militant drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas – as “productive and constructive” but would not go into any specific details of his talks with Pakistani leaders.

“We’re obviously waiting for the end of the parliamentary review process so that we can engage with Pakistan on a way forward,” the spokesman said at the daily briefing.

Pressed to explain how Nides’ visit was perceived as productive, Toner referred to the remarks both by Pakistan and American diplomats and saw a positive tone towards re-engagement between the two countries.

“They had real substantive discussions. And overall, the message was that — and of course I can refer you to Deputy Secretary Nides’ public remarks — is that we value our relationship with Pakistan, and we respect their parliamentary process, and we’re looking, once that’s completed, to engage with them.”

Toner was also questioned repeatedly about timing of the annoucement of the $ 10 million bounty on Jamaat ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed for his alleged role in 2008 Mumbai attacks but he denied that the timing had anything to do with either Nides’ visit to Islamabad or President Asif Ali Zardari’s upcoming visit to India.

“We’ve talked about this upcoming visit (by Presisdent Zardari to India). We’ve talked about the fact that we’ve had some high-level US officials in Pakistan — Deputy Secretary Nides, for example. And I was very clear that none of this is related to any of those visits, any of those interactions.”

He also sought to clarify that the US Rewards for Justice programme is  separate process  and that it takes place in our diplomatic security channels over long time.

“It is indeed a long process to evaluate these individuals. So there

is no relation here. We certainly don’t want it to impact on his (President Zardari’s) visit to India —- we’re certainly — we want to see — to us, it’s a win-win situation when Pakistan and India are engaging in dialogue, are talking to each other and are building better cooperation.”