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Obama to Visit Pakistan in 2011

21 October 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will not visit Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, but that he is committed to visiting there in 2011, as well as welcoming Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington.

Mr. Obama made the announcements Wednesday during a meeting with the Pakistani delegation to the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Washington.

Earlier in the day, U.S. and Pakistani officials began a third round of the dialogue aimed at strengthening ties and easing tensions over recent NATO and U.S. military strikes on Pakistani soil.

As part of the dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani at the Pentagon Wednesday.

Gates expressed his appreciation for the Pakistani military's contributions and sacrifices in fighting terrorism and apologized for the cross-border raid that mistakenly killed two Pakistani soldiers.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will wrap up the dialogue with a formal meeting on Friday.

Also Wednesday, Mr. Obama and his security advisers met at the White House for their monthly session on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A White House statement says the talks began with a discussion of U.S. ongoing efforts to work with Pakistani and Afghan partners to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates. The talks included recent counter-terrorism operations and efforts to help Pakistan recover from devastating floods.

Mr. Obama's team also discussed recent developments related to the Afghan elections, and President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

President Obama received a briefing on the security situation in Afghanistan, including U.S. efforts to target Taliban leadership, security operations around Kandahar and preparations for the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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