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EU To Increase Aid To Pakistan In Return For Reforms

European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and German Development Minister Dirk Niebel arrived in Islamabad on Thursday for a joint visit to Pakistan.

Piebalgs will reaffirm the European Commission's plan to increase its development assistance to Pakistan by 50% - to 75 million euros ($106 million) a year -- for 2011-2013, the Commission said in a press release..

The aid programs will continue to focus on rural development, support for education and stronger governance.

Piebalgs and Niebel will meet Pak President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and other high-level representatives of the government and the National Assembly. He will also hold discussions with members of civil society and representatives of provincial authorities. The Commissioner will underline the need for increased efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Piebalgs said he will encourage the authorities to speed up the political and economic reform process, as it is the "only way Pakistan can move towards sustainable economic growth and stability."

He vowed that knowing that Pakistan faces multiple challenges today on the road to the eradication of poverty, the EU will continue to provide support to address the country's needs.

The EU and Pakistan will also discuss the next steps towards an EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, including important economic aspects such as development and market access, progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, but also human rights, and peace-building issues.

During his trip, Piebalgs will also visit several EU-funded projects geared towards supporting trade and economic development.

Total assistance for Pakistan by the EU and its Member States for the period 2009-2013 amounts to 2,458 billion euros ($3,477billion), which represents around 30 % of the total annual development assistance to the country.

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