EU to Increase Aid to Pakistan

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The European Union says it is ready to increase its assistance to Pakistan despite the country's struggles with terrorism and the slow pace of political and economic reforms.

European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and German Development Minister Dirk Niebel arrived in Islamabad Thursday for a series of high-level meetings, including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Piebalgs and Niebel plan to reaffirm the EU's pledge to boost development aid to Pakistan by 50 percent, to more than $100 million a year between 2011 and 2013, and encourage Islamabad to speed up the pace of reforms.

Piebalgs said the EU understands that Pakistan faces multiple challenges on the road to eradicating poverty and will continue to provide support to address the country's needs.

The two sides are also expected to discuss the next steps toward an EU-Pakistani Strategic dialogue, including development and market access, progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, human rights and peace-building issues.

The EU is one of Pakistan's biggest trading partners. The 27-member economic bloc has given billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, including almost $600 million for victims of the 2010 floods.