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State Department

Nuclear Proliferation A Top National Security Concern for US: State Department

WASHINGTON – The US State Department on Tuesday said that nuclear proliferation is a top national security concern for Washington, days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allegedly said that Pakistan’s nuclear programe is among the five biggest threats to America’s national security.
Asked to comment on the secretary’s statement at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing, the State Department’s Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said: “Nuclear proliferation is one of the very first national security concerns articulated in our National Security Strategy. It’s at the very top of the list.” Dawn news reported Wednesday.
Defending Secretary Pompeo’s position on this issue, Palladino said the issue was so huge that the US must stay engaged with it all the time. “So, that absolutely remains something that this administration thinks about often, because the level of the impact, of what could happen is simply so great. So that remains at the very top of our national security considerations,” he explained.
He noted that Pompeo had also emphasized the need for Pakistan to “deliver outcomes and to build confidence and trust between our two nations.”
The US, Palladino said, he wants to see a prosperous Pakistan that contributes positively towards regional stability and security.
Responding to another question, he said: “Pakistan could play an important role in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, this is something that we’re thankful for.”
At a Pakistan Day reception in Washington on Monday night, another senior US official, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said that the US wants a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan but it also seeks the same for Afghanistan and others in the region.
Ambassador Hale, who served in Pakistan for three years before taking over his new responsibilities in Washington last year, said, “America wants to forge even closer ties with Pakistan as it becomes ever more stable and democratic.”
He said: “We both value a relationship characterized by mutual respect. Americans and Pakistanis alike are seeking a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan just as we seek those same attributes for Afghanistan and for the region.”
The point, he said, is also underlined in the Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia, which seeks an orderly withdrawal of US and other foreign forces from Afghanistan. To reach there, the United States is negotiating a four-point draft agreement with the Taliban, as listed by the chief US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad: “Counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.”
By linking peace and stability in Pakistan with Afghanistan, Ambassador Hale also stressed this point. “We are committed to those goals,” he said.
Hale also spoke about “the vibrancy and potential of the Pakistani nation”, which he witnessed during his 3-year stay in the country. “A potential, which is still today not fully tapped,” he said. “Pakistan can become a major player in the world economy if it takes advantage of its considerable resources and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Ambassador Hale noted that US-Pakistan bilateral trade exceeded a record $6.6 billion in 2018 but “can do much, much more.”
Pakistan’s US envoy Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan had noted at the event that US-Pakistan relations recently passed through “a stage of coldness” but the US did play “a good and positive role, in de-escalating” the India and Pakistan confrontation.
Khan said that both sides realized the importance of this bilateral relationship and also shared a commitment to overcome the difficulties they sometime encounter.
He also referred to President Donald Trump’s statement last week that relations between the US and Pakistan were “very good now” and he may soon initiate talks with the new Pakistani leadership.
“I believe both sides fully realize the importance of this relationship. So, if there are differences in certain areas, there’s also a commitment to overcome those differences,” Ambassador Majeed said.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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