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US working on plan for Pakistan’s debt relief: Official

ISLAMABAD Oct 21 (NNI): U.S Under Secretary for Economic, Business and Agriculture Affairs, Mr. Alan Larson has assured that Washington is in consultations with Pakistan and other creditors to tailor a programme for Pakistan that fits its needs, interest, opportunities and its debt profile.
He added that his country is working on modalities meant for providing meaningful, immediate and lasting debt relief to it in a bid to maximizes opportunities and lay foundation for trade and investment relationship.
He was addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan Finance Minister, Mr. Shaukat Aziz after their talks here Sunday. Avoiding direct answer about waiving of Pakistan’s debts on the pattern of Egypt, at the time of Gulf war the US Under Secretary said Washington is in consultations with Pakistan and other creditors to tailor a programme for Pakistan that fits its needs, interest, opportunities and its debt profile.
He said the United States is trying to be flexible about the modalities so that the relief is immediate, lasting and has a sustainable approach to Pakistan's debt. Mr. Alan Larson said he has come to Pakistan on the direction of President Bush for developing long term cooperative arrangements with Pakistan. They wanted to felicitate the government and the people of Pakistan to become a growing economy that produces benefits and jobs to its people. He said they are talking about laying the foundation in trade and investment on long term basis. He said that he discussed with Pakistani Finance Minister on how to put together a sustainable package of measures to support the strong economic reform programme of Pakistan, the support that Pakistan can get from international financial institutions, other bilateral donors including the United States, debt relief package as well as market access and to promote private investment.
Mr. Larson pointed out that during the last few weeks the US government has moved for normal economic relations with Pakistan and bilateral economic assistance as well as to encourage other donors to extend economic assistance to Pakistan. The United States is actively supporting Pakistan's negotiations for a new agreement with the IMF. Islamabad has good relations with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and Washington is supporting for increase access to resources of these institutions.
The US Under Secretary said they want to mobilize international community behind a generous treatment to Pakistan once new IMF agreement has been concluded. He said his priorities are to work with Pakistan to stabilize and enhance Pakistan's trade relations with the United States. The US government is looking at new measures to increase access of Pakistani products in US markets. As an immediate step, the United States is restoring some of the benefits under General
System of products (GSP) and was working with Congress to extend new GSP benefits for certain products. He said the United States is committed to remove quotas on other textile related products. In addition, they are working with Congress to consider ways to stimulate Pakistan's major exports. Mr. Alen Larson said the overseas private investment cooperation’s have extended a line of credit of three hundred million dollars, Export and Import Bank is also considering a number of projects to promote business relationship. He said the United States has already announced to provide thirty million dollars in food assistance to Pakistan and working in a number of areas including border security and law enforcement programme with Pakistan. He appreciated the cooperation that Washington has received from Pakistan after the 11th of September terrorist attacks.--NNI

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