Pakistan wants distinction between Taliban and al-Qaeda

Islamabad, June 10 (Agencies): Pakistan and the US have resolved to ensure that al-Qaeda is "dismantled, disrupted and defeated", though Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani wants a distinction to be made between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The matter figured in a telephonic conversation late last night between Gilani and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an official statement said.
The two leaders held extensive discussions on Pakistan-US relations after Clinton called the Premier. "Both the leaders expressed determination that al-Qaeda had to be dismantled, disrupted and defeated, for which both countries should work together," the statement said.
Gilani said it is "imperative to make a distinction between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which would help to overcome the threat". Gilani and Clinton also expressed satisfaction over the establishment of a Joint Task Force between the intelligence agencies of the two countries to facilitate information-sharing and coordination.
Clinton said the CIA chief will shortly visit Pakistan and "hold talks for cooperation in relevant fields". This was Clinton's second telephonic conversation with Gilani since June 6 and she "appreciated Pakistan's commitment to eradicate terrorism" and assured the country of complete US support, the statement said.
Clinton further said that US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides, who is in-charge of foreign economic assistance, will visit Pakistan during June 14-15 to hold detailed discussions on economic matters. Nides will call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani and meet Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.
Gilani said he appreciated the understanding of the US leadership for "creating more political space to help generate positive public opinion and to work together to achieve the common objective of defeating extremism and terrorism". He told Clinton there was "complete consensus in Pakistan to work together with the US and other international partners to defeat terrorism in the larger interest of global peace".
Both leaders agreed that further in-depth discussions and consultations in all fields between the two countries at an appropriate level would continue to develop better understanding and cooperation. Relations between the US and Pakistan have been hit by several events this year, including the covert American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.
The two countries have attempted in recent weeks to improve relations, including cooperation between their spy agencies which had almost stopped. The strains continue to affect military-to-military cooperation between the two allies in the war on terror.
A meeting of the Pakistan Army's Corps Commanders chaired by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani yesterday decided to share intelligence with the US "strictly on the basis of reciprocity and complete transparency".
"It has been clearly put across to US intelligence officials that no intelligence agency can be allowed to carry out independent operation on our soil," said a statement issued by the military after the meeting of the army's top commanders.