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Biden assures Pakistan of support against terrorism

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  • NEW: Vice President-elect Joe Biden hopes Pakistan, India overcome tensions
  • Biden and Sen. Lindsay Graham meet in Islamabad
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden assured Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday that the incoming Obama administration will continue to support Pakistan's efforts to strengthen democracy and combat terrorism, according to Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden meets Pakistani officials in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Friday.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden meets Pakistani officials in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Friday.

Biden told Zardari that the new U.S. administration would also help Pakistan "meet its socio-economic requirements and capacity building," the ministry said in a written statement.

The vice president-elect "assured the Pakistani leadership" of the United States' "continued assistance to Pakistan," the statement said.

No additional details were provided.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, accompanied Biden on the trip.

Biden "described Pakistan as an incredibly valued U.S. ally and said that the U.S. recognized Pakistan's important contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism," the ministry said.

Zardari, who took office in September, said "Pakistan needed the support and understanding of the international community in this effort," according to the statement.

Pakistan's government is waging a bloody battle against Taliban and al Qaeda militants in its tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan. The United States has provided Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid for those counterterrorism activities.

Last year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill authorizing $7.5 billion in non-military aid over the next five years.

The measure is sponsored by committee chairman Biden and the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. It would provide money for developments such as schools, roads and medical clinics, and it conditions security aid on State Department certification that Pakistan is making efforts against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The bill has not come before the full Senate.

Biden also said he was hopeful that India and Pakistan could resolve their conflicts, according the ministry.

"The U.S. vice president-elect expressed the hope that both Pakistan and India will be able to overcome the current tensions and would resolve their differences peacefully," the ministry's statement said.

November's attacks in Mumbai, India, fueled tensions between Pakistan and India, longtime rivals that have fought three wars since independence and conducted tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests in 1998.

India has said Islamic militants trained in Pakistan were behind the three-day siege of India's financial capital. Pakistani officials have promised to cooperate with the investigation but have insisted that India show it the evidence supporting its case.

On Wednesday, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the sole surviving suspect in the Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people, is a Pakistani national, state-run media reported.

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