ISLAMABAD President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday renewed Pakistans longstanding demand for access to the US and EU markets while requesting US congressional delegation to play its role in this regard.
Talking to a visiting US congressional delegation, President Zardari stressed the need of Pakistani goods access to the US and EU markets.
The President pointed out that the drone attacks on Pakistani territory undermined the national consensus against the war on militancy.
He urged the American delegation to persuade the US policy makers to give the drone technology to Pakistan so that the militants could be targeted by Pakistans national security forces themselves rather than by foreign troops, which raised questions of sovereignty.
According to an official handout, the President asked the Congress delegation to play its role for early adoption of ROZs legislation in the Congress.
According to the President, setting up of the US supported ROZs would usher in a new era of socio-economic development in areas affected by war against militancy.
Senator John McCain led the delegation that also included Senator Joseph Liberman, Senator Johan Barrasso, Christian Brose, Foreign Policy Advisor, Vance Serchuk and Brooke Buchanan.
US Ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W Patterson and senior officials of the US embassy were also present on the occasion.
The President underlined the need for the strategic long-term partnership between Pakistan and the United States to be based on mutual interest, respect and trust.
The President hailed President Obamas affirmation of US commitment to Pakistans stability, security and prosperity and said that democratic stability in Pakistan was contingent upon advancement of our development agenda for which US support was critical.
The President said that the US assistance could be channeled through the government in accordance with our priorities and programmes and ensured transparency, accountability and efficacy in terms of results.
The President said that the cost of the war against terror amounting to $35 billion for the last eight years had almost paralysed Pakistans economy.
Pakistan has been facing delays in payments of coalition support Fund claims, the President said and urged timely reimbursement of over $1 billion on account of CSF.
Referring to President Obamas new Afghan strategy the President said that Pakistan had legitimate interests in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The President urged that US must remain sensitive to Pakistans core national interests and concerns.
The US actions should remain on the Afghan side of the border, he added.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 08-Jan-2010 here.