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US grants $ 50 million in aid to Pakistan

WASHINGON Oct 18 (NNI): President George W Bush has ordered the provision of $50 million in economic aid to Pakistan, further cementing US support for Islamabad after it agreed to back the new US campaign on terrorism.
Bush directed Secretary of State Colin Powell to provide the money, saying it was "important to the security interests of the United States". The President can make such provisions under the Foreign Assistance Act whenever he deems it necessary for US national security, reports NDTV Thursday.
Details of how the grant will be spent were not immediately available but the White House said a similar $50 million grant last month was intended to support Pakistan's battered economy.
Bush cleared the way to assist Pakistan last month when he waived sanctions also slapped on India after the two archrivals conducted nuclear weapons tests in 1998, sparking fears of a South Asian atomic arms race. The measures barred US investment, economic assistance and arms sales to Pakistan.
Islamabad's economy has been staving off bankruptcy and the sanctions waiver represented a substantial boost as it allowed Washington to back aid to Pakistan tendered to organizations like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Bush demanded Pakistan support his war on terrorism and pressure Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, who are harbouring Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11.
But mindful of the delicate balancing act that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf must undertake as he supports the United States but risks a backlash from radical Islamic groups, Bush has sweetened his pressure with political dividends for Pakistan.

EU outlines trade concessions
Pakistan is to have greater access to EU markets under European Commission proposals intended to prop up its economy as the US-led assault on Afghanistan continues.
The proposals, subject to approval by the 15 EU member states and European Parliament, include the lifting of all tariffs on Pakistani-made clothing, and a 15 per cent increase on EU quotas for Pakistani textiles and clothing.
"We are aware of the exceptional circumstances faced by Pakistan at the moment," said EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, who met Pakistani Trade Minister Abdul Razzaq Dawood in Singapore a few days ago.
"For that reason, after the September 11 attacks in the United States the European Union moved to give priority to trade liberalization talks that it started with Pakistan seven months ago," Lamy said.
The European Union is Pakistan's main trading partner, accounting for 30 per cent of its exports. Seventy-five per cent of those exports consisted in cotton, textiles, garments and leather goods.
Lamy said the EU concessions would be undertaken by including Pakistan in a generalized system of preferences (GSP) regime that favors countries deemed to be combating the international drugs trade.ŚNNI

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