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Pakistan, U.S. open 'Strategic Dialogue'

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 19, IRNA -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi Monday opened ?Strategic Dialogue’ to discuss cooperation in several areas, officials said.

The ministerial strategic dialogue, that was launched in Washington in March, 2010, has thirteen separate working groups that have met in Islamabad over the past three months.

“Pakistan attaches hopes to the Strategic Dialogue,” Foreign Minister Qureshi told the opening session of the dialogue at the Foreign Office.

Hillary Clinton said on the occasion that the strategic dialogue will bring the two countries much closer. She said the U.S. is paying attention to the Pakistan’s public.

Strategic Dialogue working group leaders from both governments, who met in Islamabad in June and July, will report out on the tangible outcomes of their work, a U.S. embassy statement has said.

The topics under discussion in strategic dialogue are: agriculture; communications and public diplomacy; defense; economics and finance; education; energy; health; law enforcement and counterterrorism; market access; science and technology; security, strategic stability and nonproliferation; water; and women’s empowerment.

Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on two-day visit and met President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and also witnessed a transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Diplomatic sources said that Hillary Clinton had pushed Pakistan and Afghanistan to remove differences in the transit trade.

A U.S. official told reporters in Islamabad that Hillary Clinton is likely to announce $500 million, which is part of $1.5 billion aid package the South Asian country to receive every year over the next five years.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit says that Pakistan will also raise the issue of its relations with India. There had been a deadlock in last week talks between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India.

During the visit, she will also directly engage Pakistani citizens and take their questions in a Town Hall meeting that will be covered by the press later today, the embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire said.

American officials hope that the aid and Clinton’s interaction with the political, business leaders and media persons will help remove the mistrust between the two nations.

Vali Nasr, a deputy to U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, has admitted mistrust between the two countries and that overcoming the suspicion remains a work in progress. He said that the mistrust can not be removed overnight.

The U.S. Secretary of State will travel to Afghanistan to attend international conference in Kabul on July 20th.

End News / IRNA / News Code 1235724

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