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Obama announces Pakistan aid

  |   Sept. 25, 2009 at 12:59 AM
NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama announced U.S. Senate passage of a bill tripling non-military aid to Pakistan at a meeting in New York Thursday.

The Kerry-Lugar bill to provide $1.5 billion a year to Pakistan for the next five years passed Thursday in time for Obama to announce it at a New York summit meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan.

"How nice that the U.S. president could announce it personally," Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan, told a briefing, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also stressed the significance of Obama's gesture, saying it reflected the confidence of the international community in Pakistan's democracy, Dawn said.

Zardari said Pakistan has made progress in the past year under democratic government.

"We have a message for the extremists: There's no place for them in the civilized world," he said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who addressed a joint news conference with Zardari after the meeting, was quoted as saying "leaders from more than 20 countries" expressed confidence in the new government in Pakistan. He also announced a separate aid of 50 million pounds for the areas bordering Afghanistan, Dawn said.

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