U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Richard Boucher met with Pakistan’s leaders, including President Pervez Musharraf, the new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Asif Zardari, head of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz political party.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the meetings come at an important time for Pakistan:
"Simply stated, it’s an opportunity for us to engage at a very senior level, with a new Pakistani Government as they are making this transition, another transition to a new phase of their democracy. They are recently coming out of a period of time in which there was a diversion from the pathway of democracy. We welcome the fact that they are now back on that pathway to democracy, that they have held elections in which the Pakistani people can have confidence. There is now a new prime minister. There will be a new government. We look forward to working with that new government as well as President Musharraf."
The U.S. and Pakistan, said Mr. McCormack, have some important interests in common:
"Fundamentally, we would like to see a Pakistan that broadens and deepens its economic and political reform. We think that's good for Pakistan. We think it's good for the region, and we think it's good for our interests as well. We think that that and fighting violent extremism are inextricably linked. The long term hedge against the expansion of violent extremists and terrorists in the region and in Pakistan is the broadening and deepening of these economic and political reforms."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that in the view of the U.S., Pakistan now is on a course "that has as an objective, a different kind of Pakistan, one in which all Pakistani people can enjoy the benefits of a more open, more vibrant Pakistani economy" and can feel "that they have a government that is truly working on their behalf."