Hillary Clinton to meet Khar in Brussels next week

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in Brussels on December 4, her spokesperson announced.

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar in Brussels on December 4, her spokesperson announced on Friday.

The ties between the two sides, a year after the cross- border NATO raid in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed, is now on a firmer footing, but still a lot of work is to be done, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

"When we are in Brussels next week - I think it`s on Tuesday (December 4), the Secretary (Clinton) will have a chance to meet with Foreign Minister Khar as well. The foreign minister will be in Brussels; I think she`s briefing the North Atlantic Council as well on Tuesday," Nuland told reporters.

"We are on a firmer footing. We still have a lot of work to do together that`s in the interest of both of our countries in the region, particularly in the areas of counterterrorism, economic opportunity, et cetera. So we want to pursue all of those things in these sessions that we`re having," Nuland said when asked about the state of the US-Pak relationship, a year after the Salala incident which resulted in the bilateral ties dipping to a new low in the weeks and months thereafter.

As a mark of improvement in ties between US and Pakistan, a series of meetings between the officials of the two nations are being held, which includes Clinton meeting Khar in New York and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September this year.

"You know the Secretary, right before the UNGA, had a bilateral meeting here with Foreign Minister Khar. When she was in New York, she saw President Zardari. Ambassador (Marc) Grossman (Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan) was in Pakistan in October. We`ve had a number of these working groups that we talked about.

"We`ve had the Counter-IED Working Group has met, a couple of others that we have under our bilateral group, the economic and finance working group that the Deputy Secretary (of State) is chairing today, and then of course we`ll have this chance to see Foreign Minister Khar again in Brussels," she said.

"So obviously, the pace of interaction is much more back to normal now and puts the relationship on this firmer footing we`ve both sought," the spokesperson said.

"This is part of a whole series of meetings that we`re having at various levels with Pakistani counterparts, continuing to try to get the relationship on a formal footing," she added.

The US-Pak meeting on the bilateral economic and financial issues is to review their entire relationship in terms of the trajectory trying to move from aid to trade, seeing what the United States can do to encourage increased investment, to open markets.

"And then we have a number of economic projects together in Pakistan -- to review those and ensure that they are targeted properly and on track. So I think there`ll be a bigger read- out after those meetings conclude, either in writing or some other way," Nuland said.


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