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Clinton Had 'Constructive' Talks WIth Pakistani Counterpart

February 23, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she and her Pakistani counterpart had a "constructive discussion of our common concerns."

The February 23 meeting came with bilateral relations badly strained since U.S. air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border last November.

In response, Pakistan has closed key NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The incident also sparked a review of relations with the U.S. in Pakistan's parliament.

Speaking after her talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on the sidelines of an international conference in London, Clinton said the meeting "gave us a very important opportunity to keep the lines of communication open."

A senior U.S. official earlier gave an upbeat assessment of the talks.

The U.S. official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said Khar welcomed the idea of resuming cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism and Afghanistan once Pakistan's parliament finishes its review.

According to the official, Clinton called for the resumption of a full range of formal contacts with Pakistan after parliament completes its review.

The official said those steps include visits by top U.S. diplomats, along with a return to three-way talks between the U.S., Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Washington has questioned Islamabad's resolve to fight extremism after U.S. forces killed former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan compound last spring. Washington has since slashed military aid to Pakistan.

A classified NATO report leaked earlier this month said Pakistan's secret services are assisting the Taliban to carry out attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Analysts say bilateral ties have been further complicated after a U.S. congressman recently proposed a nonbinding resolution on Pakistan's Baluchistan province where separatists have been waging an insurgency against the government for decades.

The resolution by Representative Dana Rohrabacher -- a Republican from California -- states that the Baluch people -- who live in parts of Iran and Afghanistan as well as Baluchistan -- "have the right to self determination and to their own sovereign country."

The Obama administration rejected the proposed resolution, and explained it did not control the actions of congressmen.

Not satisfied, the Pakistani government summoned the deputy U.S. ambassador and claimed the resolution violated "the United Nations charter, international law, and recognized norms of interstate conduct."

Based on Reuters and AP reporting

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/us_says_pakistan_welcomes_resuming_cooperation/24494231.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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