Statements by Members of US Government and Officials
March 21, 2012
Defense Department Regular Briefing
Q: As far as the review by the Pakistani parliament is concerned, did you receive officially any copy of the number of controversial demands they are asking? One is that — (inaudible) — drone attacks must end immediately, and also, second, that U.S. must apologize to the Pakistanis for killing those 24, among other things, before they even talk to the U.S. and open up the doors of the supplies — routes?
MR. LITTLE: I'm unaware that the Pakistani parliamentary review has been completed. And it's probably — it's an ongoing process.
CAPT. KIRBY: It hasn't been completed. So there's — it's an ongoing process, as far as we understand.
Q: Today's Washington Post has already reported, and Pakistani media has already been reporting. And the review already been finalized, and the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan was already handed over with a copy of the review.
MR. LITTLE: We always, as a matter of course, welcome dialogue with our Pakistani partners. As we've discussed on many occasions, we realize that there have been bumps in the road over the past year or so. This is something we want to get beyond. And we believe that we can enhance cooperation. Look, we're cooperating every day with the Pakistanis on a number of fronts. We share common goals and common interests, particularly when it comes to the counterterrorism efforts. So this is a critical issue for us. We are obviously willing to discuss with our Pakistani partners the outcome of the parliamentary review at the end of the day, and we'll see where that goes.
But it would be premature for me to speculate on what the Pakistani parliament may share with us.
Q: But I think, just quickly — follow quickly — let's say whatever review and whatever official statement you get from them, or a copy, what they are saying is — or I'll ask you — as far as drone attacks are concerned now inside Pakistan, it's because there are still — you believe there is still terrorism or al-Qaidas (sic) are still there? And second, since Pakistan has not apologized to the U.S. for keeping Osama bin Laden and helping and keeping those terrorists and al-Qaidas inside Pakistan — now they're asking you to apologize for these soldiers' killing — are you willing to — any kind of adjustment there? Or are you still asking the Pakistanis — they should apologize for keeping Osama bin Laden?
MR. LITTLE: Let me try to unpack that a little bit. The United States and Pakistan have a common interest in thwarting terrorists. It's important that we work together to fight al-Qaida and its militant allies. We believe that American counterterrorism operations in the region are important to taking al-Qaida and other terrorists off the street.
There has been great success, and we've had great success working with the Pakistanis in going after terrorists. It's important to remember that the terrorist threat is not — that emanates from that part of the world does not involve solely threats against the United States. Pakistanis have borne the brunt of terrorism. Pakistani blood has been spilled. And we recognize that this is a common fight and we have to work together. And we're going to continue to pursue that cooperation, especially in the counterterrorism realm.
Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul
Q: Thank you, Mr. Minister. Thank you, Madam Secretary. As you mentioned, about the recent tragic events in Afghanistan, burning of Quran and killing of 16 civilians there, can you give us a sense of where do we stand on the progress on the strategic partnership document? And what should the people of Afghanistan expect out of it? Do you expect this to be signed before the Chicago summit? And secondly, on Pakistan, there are few conditions that Pakistan is asking U.S. to fulfill after this November 26th incident. Is U.S. willing to accept those conditions? And Mr. Minister, what kind of impact Afghanistan is having on — because of the strained relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan?
SEC. CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to the strategic partnership agreement, I agree with Minister Rassoul that we are making progress. The United States is committed to a long-term relationship with the government and people of Afghanistan. We're continuing our discussions to negotiate an agreement that is in the best interests of our countries and reflects the commitment we have to an enduring relationship. We've made good progress the last few weeks resolving some of the few outstanding issues. The recent memorandum of understanding on detention operations was signed, as you — as you heard the minister. We are looking forward to finalizing the so-called night raids agreement. These are complicated issues, but we are resolving them. We're clearing the way toward a strategic partnership agreement. We would very much like to be in a position to sign such an agreement at — either before or at the Chicago summit. And I think we are on track to do so. You know, with regard to your question concerning Pakistan, you know, we have made it clear we respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. We also respect the democratic process that Pakistan is engaged in. We think it is actually quite significant that the democratically elected government, the democratically elected parliament is engaging in these matters. We want an honest, constructive, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan. We remain committed through the recent ups and downs. We've been working through these difficulties and challenges. We believe we have shared interests. We believe we have the same enemies. We believe that it's important to support counterterrorism against the insurgents who kill and maim tens of thousands of Pakistani people, who send teams across the border to kill and maim, you know, people in Afghanistan and to kill and maim our soldiers and others. So we actually think we have a very strong security interest and mutually shared objectives with Pakistan. But we also think supporting democracy and prosperity in Pakistan and stability in the region is good for Pakistan, it's good for Afghanistan, and it's good for the United States. So we're waiting to, you know, see the results of the parliament's debates, their recommendations to the government. It — since it is ongoing, I think it would be not appropriate
for me to comment at this time. They should be able to engage in their debate, but we stand ready to continue our work with the government and people of Pakistan.
MIN. RASSOUL: I think, Madam Secretary, you responded to a question from my side too. United States is a friend and allies of Afghanistan, and Pakistan is a neighbor of Afghanistan and a brotherly neighbor. So, as Madam Secretary mentioned, at the end of the day, you have the same interests: A peaceful, stable, democratic Afghanistan is definitely in the interests of Pakistan, and a destabilized Pakistan is not in the interest of Afghanistan, neither the United States. So we need to work together to come out with the full understanding that we have a common enemy and we are linked to each other. And the stability and prosperity of one is the interest of other.