President George Bush met with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the White House to reaffirm America's commitment to expanding its strategic partnership with Pakistan. Increased economic and security cooperation were among the topics President Bush discussed with Prime Minister Gilani.
Mr. Gilani said Pakistan is committed to the fight against violent extremists. "This is our own war. This is a war against Pakistan," he said. President Bush said the U.S. supports Pakistan in the war on terrorism and respects Pakistan's sovereignty and democratic government.
To demonstrate the broad-based U.S. commitment, President Bush has pledged substantial food aid to benefit the people of Pakistan. Over the past year, Pakistan has experienced a sharp seventy percent increase in staple food prices. The U.S. will work to provide a major food security assistance package of over one-hundred-fifteen million dollars for both short-term and long-term needs.
Mr. Bush also renewed a joint commitment to pursue steps to establish Reconstruction Opportunity Zones that will expand trade opportunities in parts of Pakistan. The U.S. and Pakistan will continue economic dialogue on August 11, including discussion of the status of ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations. Energy and trade dialogues are planned for the fall.
Pakistan has been a strong partner in the fight against terrorism. Hundreds of al-Qaida operatives have been captured and turned over to U.S. authorities and more than seven-hundred Pakistani troops have been killed or wounded in battles with terrorists and local extremists in the region bordering Afghanistan.
Since 2006, the U.S. has provided an average of one-billion-five-hundred-ninety-million dollars a year in economic aid and security assistance to Pakistan. Humanitarian and economic assistance includes democracy-building, emergency response, health, education, agriculture and economic development. U.S. security assistance includes counternarcotics, counterterrorism, military training, and equipment.
The U.S. remains committed to Pakistan. "Pakistan is a strong ally and vibrant democracy," said President Bush.