John Kerry arrives in Pakistan for key talks

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 22:47

Islamabad: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here on Wednesday for consultations with the newly-elected government in Pakistan and nudge it to eliminate terrorist safe havens ahead of the withdrawal of US-led troops from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Kerry, who had earlier postponed his visit, will hold meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani on Thursday.

This is Kerry`s maiden visit to Pakistan after becoming the Secretary of State.

Bilateral relations and regional situation especially resumption of strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States besides the issue of drone strikes will be discussed during Kerry`s meeting with the top leadership.

The two sides are expected to discuss resumption of strategic dialogue as well as cooperation in different fields including energy, the Foreign Office officials said.

Pakistan and US will hold discussion on regional situation with particular reference to post 2014 situation in Afghanistan, Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, Kerry will have "consultations with the newly-elected civilian government and to reinforce the United States` continuing commitment to the Pakistani people."

"Kerry`s discussions will focus on a wide range of topics including promoting security, strengthening the Pakistani economy, and reinforcing people-to-people ties between the United States and Pakistan, in addition to regional topics of mutual interest," Psaki said in a statement.

Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said the issue of resumption of Pak-US Strategic Dialogue will be taken up during Kerry`s visit.

Aziz said issues relating to drone attacks in Pakistan`s tribal areas and the situation in Afghanistan would also come up for discussions.

The US is looking to Pakistan to play a key role in the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in 2014 but the two sides have been unable to reach common ground on involving the Afghan Taliban in peace negotiations.

Pakistani-US ties were strained after the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan`s Abbottabad town on May 02, 2011.

Pakistan has been demanding an end to US drone attacks targeting al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, saying it has caused civilian causalities.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 15:57

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