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'US has great confidence in Pakistan's nuclear security'

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The US today said it has "great confidence" in Pakistan's nuclear security as global leaders from across the world met in The Hague to discuss the issue of non-proliferation of atomic weapons.

"We affirmed recently and we reaffirm that we have great confidence in Pakistan's nuclear security," Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of Third International Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

The West has feared that Pakistan's nuclear assets were in danger of falling into the hands of terrorists if terrorism was not controlled in the country.

The Taliban attack in August 2012 on the Kamra military air base in Pakistan reignited concerns about the threat that terrorists could pose to the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.

"They (Pakistanis) have really done an enormous amount of work. I know the Prime Minister (Sharif) will probably talk about that here at the summit. But we do have important issues of cooperation with respect to the extremism, terror, counterterrorism, and Afghanistan," Kerry said.

The Secretary of State referred to the recent series of meetings between the top leaders of the two countries including the Obama-Sharif meeting at White House last October and his own visit to Islamabad last summer.

Kerry said the two countries are working together to root-out terrorism from the region and deal with the energy crisis.

"We - Pakistan and the US -have enormous mutual interests. We are both striving to combat extremism, terrorism, deal with the challenge of global energy, as well as to provide for the prosperity of our people and deal with nuclear security. And it's nuclear security that particularly brings us here to The Hague," he said.

"But we are working very, very closely together. I visited the Prime Minister in August of last year. We began a strategic dialogue again. We have worked together with our Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation Working Group," he said.

Kerry said Pakistan-US working group on nuclear proliferation is working and strategic dialogue between the two countries are continuing.

"That group is engaged in dealing with issues of nuclear security as well as other challenges. And in addition, we met recently in Washington. Dr (Satraj) Aziz and I engaged in our strategic dialogue."

Kerry said he looks forward to welcoming the Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar who will visit Washington for discussions.

"There are a lot of challenges - we are meeting these challenges in Pakistan. We have been in office for almost about nine months and we've had very constructive discussions with our American friends," Sharif said.

"I had a very good meeting with President Obama a few months ago in Washington, and we are now following up all that we have discussed and agreed," he said.

First Published: Mon, March 24 2014. 21:09 IST