Pakistan, US agree on resumption of Strategic Dialogue

ISLAMABAD, Aug 1 (APP): Pakistan and the United States of America Thursday agreed on resartajsumption of the Strategic Dialogue process, stalled since Oct 2010 to build a comprehensive sustainable partnership.US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz addressing a joint press stake out here at the PM House, made the announcement at the conclusion of talks between the two sides.Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif along with his team discussed the whole range of bilateral issues with Secretary Kerry and his delegation including trade and economic relationship, expanding relations in health, education and energy sectors and the negative impact of drone strikes.

Secretary Kerry said during the “constructive” and “postive” talks, the two sides discussed their common interests that outweigh any differences they have. He said the dialogue will focus on broader management, counter terrorism and Pakistan’s economic revival. “Pakistan-US relationship is not defined by threats we face and is not just about counter-terrorism, but about economic revival of Pakistan,” he said. He emphasized that the Pakistan-US relationship was strong enough to withstand any threats from the extremists. “Its all about supporting the people of Pakistan,” Kerry said and endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision and his agenda of reforms. He said he unequivocally believes that Prime Minister Nawaz desires building of their relationship. He said the partnership between the two countries covers vital areas of energy, trade and investment and mentioned the largest ever Fulbright scholarship program for Pakistan, while 1000 MWs of additional power will be available to the country with the assistance of the USAID. He said a new investment fund between the two countries has also been launched for enhancing trade and promoting trade between the two countries. PM’s Advisor said only three sessions on the Strategic Dialogue were held in 2010 and said the next ministerial level meeting between the two sides will be held within six months. Secretary Kerry said five committees on different areas will be meeting soon to revive the relationship and to turn it into a full relationship between Pakistan and the United States of America. Kerry also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to meet President Barack Obama and to discuss bilateral matters. He also applauded the historical transition in Pakistan towards its democratic journey. He recalled his visit along with Senators Chuck Hegel and Joe Biden during the 2008 general election and said he was pleased to see Pakistan move ahead and transfer of power. Sartaj Aziz said the United States of America was Pakistan’s largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and both have a shared faith in democracy and peace and development in the region. He hoped the bilateral trade between the two countries will also double to US 11 billion dollars in the years ahead. He also hoped the United States of America will help its products get greater access to the US markets. He also appreciated US assistance to Pakistan for the Diamer Bhasha dam. He also assured of Pakistan’s full support to the United States as its troops withdraw from Afghanistan. Secretary Kerry said the fates of Pakistan and Afghanistan were intertwined and both the countries need to undertake united efforts to resolve the issue of safe havens. He said a peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of not only Pakistan, but also for the entire region. He also acknowledged that 40,000 Pakistanis had sacrificed their lives in the ongoing war against terrorism. He said Pakistan needs to overcome the extremist threats from within. He hoped that the country will be able to recount the values of the father of nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and help build a sustainable democracy and a vibrant economy. Kerry also welcomed the steps taken between Pakistan and India for building an economic relationship and said if both the countries can invest in each other, the rest of the world will also invest in them. About Dr Aafia Siddiqi and exchange of prisoners, he said the matter was not taken up. Regarding the Doha process, Kerry said Pakistan was supportive of the process. About operations against the militants, Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan has conducted operations in six of its seven Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, an All Parties Conference was being planned and a strategy will be discussed with mutual consensus.

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