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NATO to establish military liaison office in Pak

Written by: Staff
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Islamabad, May 12: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has decided to establish a military liaison office in Pakistan to have better coordination with the Pakistan armed forces in countering terrorism, media report said today.

The Nation quoted NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo and senior civilian representative in Afghanistan Hikmet Cetin as telling a group of journalists that they also met President Musharraf and expressed their interest in developing strategic partnership with Pakistan.

Mr Rizzo said NATO would like to develop relationship with Pakistan independently from Afghanistan. He said they were opening all NATO schools for the Pakistani military officers and if the government of Pakistan decides civilians could also be accommodated.

Hikmet Cetin said they wanted to have intelligence sharing with Pakistan and would like to develop military-to-military relationship, as terrorism is a common threat.

The NATO officials said they would also like to emphasise on public diplomacy. They want to improve their image, as Pakistanis do not have much knowledge about their organisation. In this regard they are inviting Pakistani people to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels, which may prove useful.

The ambassador said they wanted to win the hearts of Pakistani people and convince them that they were their friends. He said NATO would also hold periodical consultations with Pakistan on political affairs in future.

Mr Cetin believed terror is the main threat in the 21st century and sought Muslim countries support in this regard. He urged the Muslim leaders, especially the Islamic Conference to play its role in fighting terror.

The ambassador said NATO wants to develop new relations with the world. They are arranging a summit in November, whose main theme would be the transformation of NATO from purely military organisation to a one, which would adapt itself to the new realities.

He gave the example of the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan and subsequent deployment for the first time of NATO forces for relief and rehabilitation efforts in Pakistan.

He said NATO-Pakistan relationship is a new one and he is here to know the country more as this part of the country is important.

Minuto Rizzo and Hikmet Cetin said NATO forces have started moving deeper into Afghanistan and now have moved into the south of the country. There are 26 NATO nations plus ten other countries, which are supporting and assisting Afghan people in standing on their own feet.

They are in Afghanistan on the UN mandate, he added.

The international forces in four and a half years have achieved much but still more is needed to be done in future.

They said it is high time to develop more coordination and close cooperation with the neighbouring countries to bring peace to this part of the world.

They said Pakistan is a key country and they have to work more closely with it to bring security and stability in the region.

UNI

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