Holbrooke rejects reports about stationing Marines in Islamabad

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Islamabad, Aug.19 (ANI): US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has rejected reports about the stationing of US Marines in Islamabad.

Sources said during his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, Holbrooke clarified that the massive expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad was primarily to accommodate all US staff.

Foreign Minister Shah Ahmed Qureshi also endorsed Holbrooke's statement saying: "'We know that no US Marine is coming to Islamabad ... Some media outlets have wrongly reported in this context."

It may be noted that media reports, based on a US State Department document, claimed that the Obama government was constructing a Marine House in Islamabad to accommodate at least 1000 marines at a cost of 112.5 million dollars.

The Obama Administration is about to spend 405 million dollars for the reconstruction and refurbishment of the main embassy building and 111 million dollars for constructing a new complex for 330 personnel. A further 197 million dollars would be spent for construction of a housing unit for about 250 personnel.

18 acres of land has already been acquired by the US for the project for a meager one billion rupees, and a Turkish firm has already built a 153-room compound for the embassy.

The US is planning to send about 1000 additional staff to Pakistan, where 750 US officials are already stationed against a sanctioned strength of only 350 personnel.

During the meeting, Zardari told Holbrooke that early adoption of legislation in the US on Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (RoZ) was necessary to bring social and political stability in the region.

Holbrooke said the prime motive of his visit was to refocus US policy on the region and to support Pakistan.

"President Obama's decision to preside over along with President Zardari the forthcoming meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan reflected the US government's desire to support any initiative aimed at lending critical strategic and economic support to Pakistan," the Dawn quoted Holbrooke, as saying. (ANI)

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