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Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan in Seoul

March 27, 2012

President Obama. Well, I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to meet once again with Prime Minister Gilani and his delegation.

Obviously, the United States and Pakistan have a host of mutual interests. We're both interested in combating terrorism, both internationally and in our respective countries. We both are interested in economic development. We're both interested in nuclear security, as evidenced by our presence here today. And we have been working together, because we're both interested in a stable and secure Afghanistan and a stable and secure region that will benefit not only Pakistan, but also the entire world.

I want to express my appreciation to Prime Minister Gilani for the work that he's done in trying to strengthen the relationship between our two countries. There have been times--I think we should be frank--over the last several months where those relations have experienced strains. But I welcome the fact that the Parliament in Pakistan is reviewing, after some extensive study, the nature of this relationship. I think that it's important for us to get it right. I think it's important for us to have candid dialogue to work through these issues in a constructive fashion and a transparent fashion.

And my expectation is, is that as a consequence of the review that's taking place in Pakistan as well as the work that we're doing on the American side, that we can achieve the kind of balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty, but also it respects our concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past.

I also want to express to the Prime Minister my appreciation for his recognition that it's in both of our interests and indeed in all of our interests to see an Afghan-led reconciliation process that needs to take place. And I appreciate the Prime Minister's statement in that regard.

And finally, I want to express my thanks for his participation in this conference, because I think that we all agree that given the threats that have been directed in Pakistan, the terrorism that has taken place on their own soil, and obviously our experiences with terrorism that we can't afford to have nonstate actors, terrorists, get their hands on nuclear weapons that could end up destroying our cities or harming our citizens.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, of course, I very much appreciate you being here. And please.

Prime Minister Gilani. Thank you so much. First of all, I want to thank Mr. President for sparing this opportunity to meet me and my delegation in Seoul.

And we are committed to fight against extremism and terrorism. It is in the interest of Pakistan for a stable, peaceful, prosperous, independent, sovereign Afghanistan. We want stability in Afghanistan. If there is a stability in Afghanistan, it's a stability in Pakistan, and peace for Afghanistan and Pakistan. We want to work together with you to have all the peace, prosperity, and progress of the whole world. And we want to work together.

I appreciate that you have said good words about Pakistan, that you want to respect the sovereignty of the country. So we--[inaudible]--together, and the parliamentary session and we are--[inaudible]--to the Parliament.

President Obama. Safe travels.

Prime Minister Gilani. Thank you.

President Obama. Thank you, everybody.

Note: The President spoke at 5:16 p.m. at the Coex Center.

Barack Obama, Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan in Seoul Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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