WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday providing an additional $7.5 billion in assistance to the Pakistani government.
"This law is the tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the U.S.," the White House said in a written statement.
The act bolsters a partnership "based on a shared commitment to improving the living conditions of the people of Pakistan through sustainable economic development, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and combating the extremism that threatens Pakistan and the United States," it said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairmen of the House and Senate committees on foreign relations Wednesday provided a written explanation of the $7.5 billion Pakistan aid bill, a response to Pakistani protests of U.S. meddling in its affairs.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman were joined by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as they spoke to reporters.
Qureshi had rushed back to Washington this week to report on the Pakistani Parliament's opposition to the five-year package of nonmilitary aid. Some Pakistani politicians said the aid bill was an American attempt to micro-manage Pakistan's civilian and military affairs.
Sen. Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said an "explanatory statement" will accompany the aid bill, which is awaiting President Obama's signature.
"Everyone is on the same page," Kerry said in a statement to journalists outside the door to the Foreign Relations Committee. "We are all clear about the intentions of the legislation."
He said the bill "demonstrates the American people have a long-term commitment to the people of Pakistan."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The United States believes Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack, the president's national security adviser said Sunday.
"We think so," Gen. Jim Jones told NBC's "Meet the Press," adding, "We put it in the 90 percent (likelihood) category."
Pakistan's foreign and interior ministers said Friday the government was still waiting to conduct DNA analysis to confirm the identity of a man killed Wednesday in an unmanned aerial vehicle strike.
The interview taped Friday at the White House was scheduled for broadcast on Sunday by DawnNews, which is Pakistan's first 24-hour English-language news channel. According to DawnNews, it was the first time a U.S. president granted a one-on-one interview to a Pakistani media outlet.
A report on the interview posted on the DawnNews Web site said Obama called the huge street demonstrations in Iran an indication that the announced election results there "obviously raised a lot of doubts."
"We respect Iran's sovereignty, but we also are witnessing peaceful demonstrations, people expressing themselves, and I stand for that universal principle that people should have a voice in their own lives and their own destiny," Obama said, according to Web site report. "And I hope that the international community recognizes that we need to stand behind peaceful protests and be opposed to violence or repression."
(CNN) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden purportedly issued another statement Wednesday, saying U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated "new seeds of hatred and revenge against America."
Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network, aired segments of what it said was a "voice recording by bin Laden." This message comes as President Obama begins his trip to the Middle East, where he is visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and, in Egypt on Thursday, is to make a major speech to the Muslim world.
This would be bin Laden's first assessment of an Obama policy. CNN analysis of the audiotape as it aired indicates that the voice on the tape sounds like bin Laden's.
Since the message was not posted on the usual radical Islamist Web site that carries statements from al Qaeda, it is believed that this latest message was hand-delivered to the TV network, based in Doha, Qatar.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday tried to reassure senators that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure and that U.S. aid money won't be diverted to produce even more nuclear weapons.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, raised the issue of Pakistan increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile as he chaired a hearing of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
"Are we just giving them money, which is after all fungible, and is going into not fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda, which are groups that are destabilizing that country more and more all the time, but rather is that money just going into the nuclear program?" Leahy asked.
"I think that there is no basis for believing that any of the money that we are providing will be diverted into the nuclear program," Clinton replied.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The United States is sending $100 million in aid to Pakistan to help alleviate the plight of an estimated 2 million people displaced by recent fighting against Taliban extremists, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday.
The money comes on top of $60 million in assistance already provided by the United States to Pakistan since last August.
The assistance is "essential to the global security and security of the United States," Clinton said in a White House briefing. Much of the aid will be directed toward the purchase of Pakistani grain as part of a larger "investment in the people and economy in Pakistan."
The Pakistani government is helping to lead the fight against extremists threatening "our collective security" and therefore deserves to be supported, she argued.
Clinton called on individual Americans to support the relief effort in the form of $5 donations by texting the word "SWAT" to the number 20222.
“There was just an air of smugness, flippancy [in the room] when serious questions where asked,” Corker said on CNN’s State of the Union. “I asked about what our mission in Afghanistan ought to be and I thought [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai’s response was a non-response and when I pushed him further, he basically said ‘Look, this is your mission,’ which made me feel that our partnership there was not quite what I think Americans would like to see.”
“We want to see this mission articulated,” added Corker, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A Democrat who sits on the same committee agreed with Corker.
“Some of the concerns that Bob raises are very well-founded,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
“We have to continually evaluate the representations that they make and see the evidence of their progress against the Taliban,” Casey added.
Asked about billions of dollars in additional aid sought by Pakistan and the Obama administration, both senators also said that they thought the U.S. would have to continue to provide military and other types of aid to the country and its recently democratically elected government.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that al Qaeda, the terrorist group that organized and carried out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is not based in Afghanistan.
"This is a syndicate of extremist organizations – some of which are truly transnational extremists," the general told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on CNN's State of the Union.
"They do come in and out of Afghanistan. But al Qaeda – precise al Qaeda, if you will – is not based per se in Afghanistan. Although its elements and certainly its affiliates . . . certainly do have enclaves and sanctuaries in certain parts of Eastern Afghanistan," Petraeus said.
The military commander added that the local, Afghani version of al Qaeda is still present in several districts of the country.
"The federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan – that very, very mountainous, rugged terrain – just east of the Afghan border and in the western part of Pakistan is the locus of the leadership of these organizations although they do, again, go into Afghanistan and conduct operations against our troops."
The general was responding to recent comments by Afghani president Hamid Karzai who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week that al Qaeda was no longer based in his country.
"I think that's an accurate assessment," Petraeus said Sunday about Karzai's remarks on CNN's The Situation Room.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's ambitious strategy for Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, dubbed "Afpak" by administration officials, will face its first test Wednesday when he meets with the leaders of both countries - neither of which is seen as able to maintain stability and fight strengthening Islamic insurgencies.
The president will meet separately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari before holding a joint session with the two leaders. The leaders also will hold talks at the State Department, FBI, CIA and on Capitol Hill.
Obama will try to build an enduring regional alliance with both countries, enlisting them as full partners rather than treating them as battlefields for U.S. soldiers to fight extremists. But both leaders are seen as weak and are deeply unpopular back home.