US government to forge more closer relations with Pak: Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry today said the US wants to "forge even closer relations" with Pakistan, saying he would work for stronger cooperation and coordination between the two countries.

Kerry made the remarks when he telephoned Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar this evening – his first formal interaction with Pakistan’s top leadership since he assumed office earlier this week.

He "reaffirmed the desire of the US government to forge even closer relations with Pakistan and assured (Khar) of stronger coordination and cooperation between the two countries," said a statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Office.

Kerry accepted Khar's invitation to "visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience".

He congratulated the Pakistan People’s Party-led government for completing its five-year term.

Khar and Kerry "agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in the common interest of both Pakistan and the US".

They expressed satisfaction at progress made during the past few months in Afghanistan and "looked forward to more intensive engagement in this regard".

The Foreign Minister congratulated Kerry on his appointment and expressed confidence that Pakistan-US relations "will continue to move on the positive trajectory".

She further hoped that Kerry, "with his deep understanding of the region and extensive knowledge of global dynamics", would make a significant contribution to strengthening bilateral relations.

Kerry is no stranger to Pakistan’s top leadership. He played a key role in the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Bergman Act to provide USD 7.5 billion of aid to Pakistan during 2010-2014.

He has also acted as a mediator to resolve differences between the two sides over the past few years.

After CIA contractor Raymond Davis killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in January 2011, Kerry played a key role in negotiations that paved the way for the release of the American national after the payment of millions of dollars as blood money.

Kerry also participated in parleys that led to Pakistan returning the wreckage of a stealth helicopter that crashed during the US military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011.

However, Kerry's detractors say he is soft on Pakistan and is unlikely to pressure Islamabad like his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, to act against militant groups.

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