Aziz to seek US help in N-tech
* PM says Pakistan plans to produce 8,800 MW of nuclear power in 20 years
By Maqbool Ahmed
WASHINGTON/ON BOARD PM’s SPECIAL PLANE: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will seek US assistance in civilian nuclear technology when he meets with American leaders in Washington during his two-day visit to the US capital.
“We need to produce 8,800 MW of electric energy through nuclear technology to meet our growing requirements in the next 20 years,” Aziz told reporters on Sunday on board his plane on the way to Washington from New York.
The prime minister will also discuss defence cooperation, investment, market access to Pakistani goods, the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan and Iran with US officials.
The peace process with India, a possible US role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, cooperation in civilian nuclear technology and President George Bush’s upcoming visit to Pakistan will figure prominently in his meeting with the American president on Tuesday, he said.
Aziz said Pakistan had condemned the US air strike on a village in Bajaur Agency on January 13 in which at least 13 civilians were killed. He said communications between Pakistan and the US had to be much better and effective. He said Pakistan had a ground presence in the area and there was a need to coordinate the ground presence and intelligence. He said he would discuss the Bajaur incident and the fight against terrorism with the US administration.
Asked to comment on the concern shown by US officials on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, he said he would also inform US leaders of other proposed gas pipeline projects Pakistan was interested in: one from Qatar to Pakistan and India, and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.
Aziz said Pakistan wanted a free trade agreement with the US, better market access, setting up of qualified industrial zones and greater trade and economic cooperation.
The prime minister was received on his arrival in Washington by US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca. He told reporters on his arrival that Pakistan’s conviction to fight terrorism was ‘unshakable’.
Addressing a gathering of American-Pakistani professionals and representatives of community organisations at a dinner at the Pakistan embassy on Sunday, Aziz said Pakistan was fighting terrorism for its own benefit. He informed the gathering of government efforts for the rehabilitation of the earthquake victims in Kashmir and NWFP.
Also, Aziz’s press secretary told reporters after a meeting between Aziz and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon that both countries had agreed to better coordination, cooperation and communication between US and Pakistani security forces to improve the security situation along the Afghan border to avoid collateral damage.
Agencies add: Later, addressing a dinner hosted by the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Aziz said the Pakistani government was pursuing the vision of enlightened moderation as a foundation for ensuring development and prosperity of the country.
Aziz also delivered a keynote address at the Heritage Foundation, saying Pakistan was an anchor of regional peace and security.