I’m very pleased to be here at this pivotal time between the United States and Pakistan to engage in discussions about the future of this very, very important relationship. I am here to build upon the important conversations that have taken place over the last 10 days – including between President Zardari and Ambassador Grossman in Dushanbe and between President Obama with Prime Minister Gilani in Seoul.
As President Obama said last week when he met Prime Minister Gilani, we believe that we can achieve a balanced approach in a relationship that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and interests but also represents our concerns about our national security.
We are committed to the people of Pakistan. And, we recognize how challenging this past year has been. And, I am heartened that we are working through our differences very constructively.
Being here today proves that a sustained engagement is the most productive way forward and a hallmark of the way in which mature democracies operate. Too much is at stake for us to turn away from each other, so we must work through all of these challenges.
The United States shares an interest in the stability and prosperity of Pakistan and the region. We share the goal of growing our markets and increasing trade; and the desire for a stable, secure, and peaceful Afghanistan; and the belief in a strong, responsible civilian government.
The fight against violent extremism has claimed so many innocent lives, Pakistani lives in particular. And so, I bring a consistent message for the Pakistani people: We greatly appreciate your support and sacrifice.
The completion of the parliamentary review offers an important opportunity to ensure the relationship is enduring, strategic, and more clearly defined. And again, the United States respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and interests and desires to achieve a balanced approached in our bilateral relationship.
We have different perspectives. And we will where we have those, seek to find solutions that respect each others’ interests. I believe we will come out of this with a relationship that benefits both our nations.
Thank you very much.