Pakistan, US hold strategic talks today

Source:  Tribune Published in Foreign Affairs on Monday, February 29, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States are all set to hold a ministerial level ‘strategic dialogue’ today (Monday) in Washington to discuss a host of issues, including counter-terrorism, security and economic ties between the two countries.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will lead a high-level Pakistani delegation while the American side will be headed by Secretary of State John Kerry at the annual meeting.

The strategic dialogue covers cooperation in economy and finance, energy, education, science and technology, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, security, strategic stability, non-proliferation and defence.

Officials said the two sides would review progress made on all the subjects during the meetings of working groups. They added that the strategic dialogue was about bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Aziz and Kerry are also expected to discuss the current regional security situation at the sidelines of the strategic dialogue.

The high-level meeting comes just days after the Obama administration approved the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan despite strong opposition from some American lawmakers and India. Secretary Kerry strongly defended the sale insisting that the fighter jets would help Pakistan in dealing with terrorism more effectively. This will be the third ministerial meeting since the PML-N government took over.

A Foreign Office statement said the prime minister’s visit to the US in October 2015 had provided necessary impetus and direction to the dialogue mechanism. The upcoming meeting will afford an important opportunity to take stock of the entire gamut of Pakistan’s bilateral relations with the US, it added.

The strategic dialogue was initiated by the Obama administration in an effort to reassure Pakistan that its relations with the US were not merely linked with Afghanistan.

People Mentioned