US rewards Pakistan with $ 7.5-b. aid

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Islamabad: The US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened high-level talks with Pakistan on July 19 by announcing several new aid projects aimed at improving the country’s water, energy and health sectors.

The projects are part of a $ 7.5 billion aid effort to convince Pakistanis that Washington is not only focused on backing the country’s fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants, but is also dedicated to improving the lives of average citizens.

The goal is to reduce the high level of anti-American sentiment in the country, providing Pakistan with more room to cooperate with Washington’s effort to turn around the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton said the US would complete two hydroelectric dam projects to supply electricity to  more than 300,000 people in areas near the Afghan border, would renovate or build three medical facilities in central and southern Pakistan, and would embark on a new initiative to improve access to clean drinking water in the country.

These projects and several others focused on promoting economic growth would cost some $ 500 million and would be funded by legislation approved by Congress to triple nonmilitary aid to $ 1.5 billion a year over five years. The initiatives mark the second phase of projects begun under a new and enhanced strategic partnership.

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