Rice Defends US Aid To Pakistan But Demands Democratic Progress

BERLIN (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Bush administration will defend its aid to Pakistan, despite protest from Congress.

Rice is set to meet President Pervez Musharraf, in her first face-to-face meeting with the Pakistani leader since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. She says the U.S. must maintain a “long-term, consistent, predictable relationship with Pakistan.” And she wants to ensure that legislative elections next month are free and fair and can put Pakistan “back on the democratic path.”

Rice says the U.S. aid “is aimed at very important goals,” including training and equipping Pakistani security forces and encouraging the country’s moderates to be more politically active.

The United States has given Musharraf’s government and military some $10 billion in assistance since the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Some in Congress are demanding more restrictions on the aid.