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Hillary Clinton Arrives In Pakistan

July 18, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to kick off a South Asian tour aimed at refining the goals of the nearly 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.

During the two-day visit to Pakistan, which begins today, Clinton will try to strengthen bilateral ties with the country, which is seen as a key player in the US-led campaign against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the region.

She is scheduled to hold talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari along with other high-level political, military and business leaders.

News agencies describe Clinton's talks as "strategic" dialogue designed to secure Pakistan's broader and steadier support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, and also to dispel, what is seen by many as, anti-American sentiments in the country.

The US has long been seen by many in Pakistan as interested only in military cooperation against the Islamic militants.

Clinton's meetings will not be limited to the issue of the war in Pakistan's borders.

The Secretary of State is expected to discuss social-economic cooperation, including heath, water, agriculture, energy, and information technology. Clinton is also expected to announce increased U.S. development assistance to Pakistan.

The U.S. Congress approved a $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan last year, which includes funds for building schools, strengthening infrastructure and bolstering democratic institutions.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said "the US engagement in several socio-economic development projects of immense value across Pakistan, which would accrue direct benefit to the people of Pakistan."

Clinton's next stop is the Afghan capital Kabul, where she will take part in an international conference on July 20. She is expected to renew Washington's commitment to support the Afghan government, but also press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to follow through on his reform pledges.

Later in the week, Clinton is to meet in South Korea with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. She also plans to visit Vietnam for talks with regional leaders.

compiled from agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Hillary_Clinton_ Arrives_In_Pakistan/2102867.html

Copyright (c) 2010. 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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