U.S. sees long-term ties to Pakistan

Dec. 18, 2009 at 2:21 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Washington is committed to a strategic partnership with Pakistan that extends beyond plans for a regional U.S. military withdrawal in 2011, officials said.

U.S. war planners tie the success of their war strategy in Afghanistan to stability in neighboring Pakistan.

David Sedney, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Central Asian affairs, said Washington has a long-term commitment to Pakistan, the U.S. Defense Department said.

"America will remain a staunch supporter of Pakistani security and prosperity long after the guns fall silent," the assistant secretary said.

He was speaking with Pentagon reporters following a visit with Pakistani officials and Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Flournoy told her Pakistani counterparts that there are no plans to leave the region after the fighting stops, as was the case when U.S. lawmakers lost interest in the region when Soviet forces pulled out in 1989.

Flournoy, Sedney said, told the Pakistanis that the July 2011 date for a U.S. military drawdown from Afghanistan was "not an end" but rather "a transition point."

Sedney added the U.S.-Pakistani relationship was based initially on internal security developments but would move in the future to advance the durability of democratic institutions.

"This is a comprehensive effort," Sedney said.

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