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EU ministers discuss helping Pakistan recover

EU ministers discuss helping Pakistan recover

European Union foreign ministers were meeting Friday to seek ways to help Pakistan recover from the flooding that has devastated vast parts of the nation while it continues to fight terrorists.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who said she met Pakistan's foreign minister separately on Thursday to discuss the flood tragedy, told reporters the bloc needs a "comprehensive approach" that includes not only humanitarian aid, but also helping Pakistan fight terrorism and boost trade.
Extremely heavy monsoon rains unleashed floods in northwest Pakistan at the end of July and the disaster spread south, killing more than 1,700 people and affecting another 17 million. The EU already has committed (EURO)70 million ($89 million) to helping Pakistan recover from the devastation, and now is looking for a long-term aid strategy to help the country get back on its feet amid fears that Islamic extremists could exploit the flooding crisis to strengthen their hold on parts of the country close to its border with Afghanistan.
"What we're trying to do now is link together all the different ways we support Pakistan ... it's very, very important," said as ministers headed into the talks in Brussels. "They need help to develop civilian police forces, the potential to tackle terrorism before it turns into actions by terrorists and, of course, the capacity to develop their economic platform."
Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations warned recently that the flooding has stretched thin the Pakistani military and will hamper its fight against terrorists.
The military's resources, particularly its limited supply of helicopters, are busy with flood relief, Husain Haqqani said, adding that going after extremists in North Waziristan or other terrorist havens will depend on the military's continuing capabilities.
U.S. military leaders have pressed Pakistan to move into North Waziristan's lawless border region where insurgents launch attacks into Afghanistan and al-Qaida leaders find sanctuary. Such a move has not yet happened.
The EU now is attempting to help Pakistan feed flood victims and fight terror. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he is pushing to open European markets to Pakistan exports.
"Whoever wants to stabilize Pakistan and prevent it drifting toward extremism and fundamentalism must ensure that the economic consequences of this natural disaster will be absorbed," he said.
The informal two-day foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels also will also touch on Turkey and the Mideast peace process.


Updated : 2021-02-28 00:33 GMT+08:00