Washington - Today, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met with a group of Senators in the Capitol as part of his first official visit to the United States. A major topic of discussion for the Prime Minister while he is in Washington has been Pakistan's role in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are operating in a safe zone along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee in charge of foreign assistance programs, attended the meeting. With al Qaeda having regrouped in the tribal region of Pakistan despite $10 billion in U.S. assistance since 9/11, Senator Menendez has held hearings and led numerous efforts to get information from the Bush administration about the effectiveness of this funding. Following the meeting he released the following statement:

"I was glad to meet with Prime Minister Gilani, and I believe a clear understanding between our nations regarding the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban is vital to the security of the United States. I certainly hope that Prime Minister Gilani is left with the understanding that we need to see better results from the fight against the terrorists in Pakistan's tribal regions, otherwise there will be major changes to our military assistance. To this point, it has been essentially a 'blank check' approach, which has done very little to make our country safer. The White House has been unwilling to change much of anything in the military funding we give to Pakistan, even as Osama bin Laden and his organization have regrouped and even as the Pakistani government negotiates agreements with militants.

"The Bush administration has been unwilling or unable to show Congress or the American people evidence that the billions in U.S. taxpayer money we've sent over there as military assistance and reimbursement has been money well spent. We are left to judge by what we see on the ground, and what we see is our number one enemy allowed to regroup in a safe zone, which makes our country no safer. Prime Minister Gilani must understand that, for the billions in military aid we have given, there must be more accountability and there must be better results."

# # #