US-Pak strategic talks next week to focus on floods

US and Pakistan would hold their third round of Strategic Dialogue of the year here next week, closely after the death of Pakistani soldiers in a NATO strike strained ties.

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2010, 11:43 AM IST

Washington: US and Pakistan would hold
their third round of Strategic Dialogue of the year here next week, closely after the death of Pakistani soldiers in a NATO strike strained ties, but officials said the devastation
caused by floods would top the agenda.

To be led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the three-day
meeting is being held in the backdrop of the massive floods in
Pakistan that hit more than 20 million people.

It also comes closely after the apparent strains in
relationship reflected in the more than a week-long closure of
the crucial NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

"The floods is the new reality. We`ll have a separate
meeting specifically on floods, but it will also impact
obviously all those other working groups, whether they be on
energy or infrastructure or water or security," said Daniel Feldman, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and
Pakistan.

"... everything will be seen through the prism of
floods, but we also have such important policy work to be done
in those committees, we didn`t want to turn it just into a
floods meeting," he told reporters at a State Department news
conference.

This will be the two countries` third ministerial-
level Strategic Dialogue meeting this year.

This is "really almost unprecedented in the degree of
high-level engagement and representation between the two
countries," he said.

Feldman said a very strong Pakistani delegation,
including a number of ministers, would hold meetings with the
US side on next Wednesday and Thursday, culminating in the
plenary on Friday.

The Strategic Dialogue, he said, would be preceded by
the Friends of Democratic Pakistan ministerial meeting in
Brussels at the end of this week on Friday and will be
preceded by a day by a senior officials meeting on Thursday.
"This senior officials meeting is quite significant
because we are making it extremely substantive in that the
World Bank and the ADB, the Asian Development Bank, have both
agreed to give the first preview of the damage and needs
assessment, which they have undertook in terms of the
long-term reconstruction needs for Pakistan," Feldman said.
Finally in November, Islamabad would host Pakistan
Development Forum meeting, he announced.

PTI