The Foreign Ministers of Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Turkey and representatives of Canada, China, the European Union and the United Nations, met in New York on Friday, September 26, under the co-chairmanship of Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Ministers of United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, to launch the Friends of Pakistan Group.
Those present congratulated President Zardari on his election as President and noted the significant opportunities for Pakistan under democratically-elected civilian leadership. They expressed outrage at acts of terrorism in Pakistan, in particular, the recent attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, and made clear that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against such acts of terrorism.
Pakistan faces formidable challenges, and well-coordinated international cooperation with Pakistan's government is needed to address those challenges. The Group of Friends agreed that the Group should work in strategic partnership with the government of Pakistan, and other relevant partners, in five key areas – stability, development, border areas, energy, and institution building.
The Group recognized the threat posed by violent extremism, and looked to Pakistan to lead the fight, with the support of the international community, against the extremists. The Group acknowledged the need for Pakistan to undertake serious economic reform, and agreed to consider improved trade access for Pakistan to their markets. The Group also agreed to encourage private sector involvement in Pakistan's development.
The Group of Friends agreed to form a partnership with Pakistan to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the security, development, and political needs of Pakistan's border region. The Group also agreed to look at ways of addressing Pakistan's energy shortfall.
Supporting Pakistan's democratic institutions, including the rule of law and good governance reform, is an important goal of the Group of Friends, as well. The Group plans to meet again at the senior level in Abu Dhabi to discuss the Group's work in more detail.
The U.S. stands with Pakistan and its partners in the Group of Friends in the important work ahead.