Third US-Pak strategic dialogue in Oct: Holbrooke

The third round of US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue will be held here on October 22, special Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrooke said Tuesday.

Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 12:55 PM IST

Washington: The third round of US-Pakistan
Strategic Dialogue will be held here on October 22, special Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrooke said today as he lauded international efforts, especially by India, in providing
support to Pakistan flood victims.

"Pakistan is the only country in the world in which
Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton will have chaired three
strategic dialogues in six months: in March in Washington,
July co-chaired in Islamabad, and next month in Washington
again," Holbrooke, Special US Representative for Pakistan and
Afghanistan, told reporters during a teleconference with the
USAID Administrator Raj Shah.

Holbrooke asserted that Pakistan is getting highest level
of attention from Washington after Afghanistan.

"So the amount of attention Pakistan`s getting from the
highest levels of the US government is unmatched by any other
country in the world, with the obvious exception of
Afghanistan."

Holbrooke, who returned from Pakistan after assessing the
severity of devastating floods there, and expressed his
satisfaction the response from the international community,
especially India.

"I would draw your attention to the fact that India has
given USD 25 million to the effort through the United
Nations," he said, adding that "USD 500,000 has already been
raised by Pakistan Relief Fund, the one Secretary (of State,
Hillary) Clinton called for."

He also lauded "a great deal" of efforts by
Pakistani-American diaspora and multinational consumer
products firm Proctor and Gamble in providing aid to the flood
victims.
"The Chinese have made a very strong commitment, in
public," he added.

Meanwhile, the envoy said the priorities for US aid to
Pakistan under the Kerry Lugar Bill will be examined in
conjunction with the Pakistani government.

"As we emerge from the early recovery phase, how can we
tell what Pakistan`s priorities are now, when one-fifth of the
country is still underwater or just beginning to emerge from
the floods? This is a very, very difficult issue...I remind
you again of how difficult it was for us in a much smaller
area, in New Orleans five years ago, and how, on the fifth
anniversary a few weeks ago, people were reporting about,
still, things in -- not complete."

The US has so far contributed USD 345 million for the
flood relief efforts.
"It is quite clear going forward that agriculture will be
one of the major priorities," USAID chief Shah said. "More
than a quarter of total crop land and nearly a third of the
productive capacity of Pakistan`s agriculture has been
severely affected."

In many cases crops, livestock, feedstock and land are
completely washed out, he said.
"So the Pakistani government, working with the Food and
Agriculture Organisation, the US and a number of others, are
putting in place significant efforts to support an early
recovery strategy in agriculture, including widespread
distribution of seed and other farm implements, and helping
farmers, as they go back to their lands, to have a successful
planting season," Shah added.

PTI