US and Pakistan to resume security talks

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gets invitation to come to Washington from visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    John Kerry, the US secretary of state, and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, have said that the two countries will resume high-level talks over security issues.

    Kerry also said on Thursday he had invited Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's newly elected prime minister, to come to Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

    "I'm pleased to announce that today, very quickly, we were able to agree to a resumption of the strategic dialogue in order to foster a deeper, broader and more comprehensive partnership between our countries," Kerry said at a press conference with Aziz in Islamabad.

    He said the talks will cover "all of the key issues between us, from border management to counterterrorism to promoting US private investment and to Pakistan's own journey to economic revitalisation".

    The US and Pakistan had launched high-level talks on a wide range of security and development programmes in 2010.

    But the talks stalled in November 2011 after US air attacks on a Pakistani post on the Afghan border accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

    Even before that, the bilateral relationship was severely damaged by a variety of incidents, including a CIA contractor shooting to death two Pakistanis in the eastern city of Lahore and the covert US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda leader, in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.

    The resumption of the strategic dialogue indicates that the relationship between the two countries has improved since that low point.

    But there is still significant tension and mistrust between the two countries, especially regarding US drone strikes and Pakistan's alleged ties with Taliban fighters using its territory to launch cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

    While this is Kerry's first visit to Islamabad as secretary of state, he has a long history of dealing with Pakistan as former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    After Kerry wraps up his meetings in Islamabad, he is scheduled to fly to London.

    The State Department said he will meet Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss the situation in Egypt and Syria and Middle East peace.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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