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US special envoy due in Islamabad

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, June 20, IRNA -- A senior US diplomat arrived in Islamabad on Monday as part of efforts to defuse tension with Pakistan and revive the strategic dialogue, local media reports said.

The Deputy US special representative for the region Frank Ruggiro, will hold talks with Pakistani officials to bridge the gap caused by unilateral US action to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad on May 2.

Shooting and killing of two Pakistanis in Lahore in February by a CIA undercover agent had hit bilateral relationship between the two uneasy allies.

The US envoy is visiting Pakistan at a time when mistrust surfaced against over the arrest of five CIA informants and around 25 other people for passing information to the US about a compound where Osama was killed.

The CIA chief who travelled to Pakistan this month called for the release of the arrested informants but Islamabad says they would be charged under the laws for acting without informing the authorities.

The informants were arrested from the area where the al-Qaeda chief was believed to have lived for five years.

Local media quoted unnamed Pakistani officials as saying that one of the purposes of the US envoy interactions with the Pakistani authorities is to resume the strategic dialogue. The acrimonies also affected the strategic dialogue process.

But the official tried to play down the controversy, saying: “Preparatory work is underway for the strategic dialogue.” “Dates have not been fixed yet,” the official told The Express Tribune newspaper. However, he said the final dates were expected to be finalised during the visit. The official also insisted that the scope of the strategic dialogue was not being narrowed down as reported by some section of the press.

Unlike the previous talks, the forthcoming strategic dialogue is expected only to focus on counter-terrorism, economy, energy and market access. However, some sources say the talks are unlikely to take place anytime soon because of the overall relationships between the two countries.

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