ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that she will visit Pakistan for discussing the way forward in bilateral relations beset with differences over fighting terrorism.
Although her schedule is being kept a tightly guarded secret for security reasons, diplomatic sources say she is expected soon. One source said she would visit Islamabad on Friday, but it could not be independently verified. US Embassy Spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said an announcement was yet to be made by the State Department. He didn’t confirm or deny that Ms Clinton was due on Friday.
Pakistan’s embassy in Washington maintained a similar line and said Ms Clinton had agreed to visit Pakistan, but asked to await State Department’s announcement. Ms Clinton’s visit would be the clearest signal yet that the US and Pakistan were committed to remaining engaged despite the mistrust that had developed since the beginning of this year and deepened with continuing drone attacks and the May 2 Abbottabad raid in which Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed.
Two US delegations visited Pakistan last week – one led by US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman and the other by CIA deputy chief Mark Morrell – to discuss the problems that had been weighing the ties down. The meetings were meant to lay the groundwork for Secretary Clinton’s visit.
Senator John Kerry, who held icebreaking discussions with the Pakistani leadership here last week, said after his meetings the secretary’s visit depended on the outcome of Marc Grossman and Mark Morrell’s visits.
After the visits by the two delegations, both sides hinted that differences over unilateral strikes persisted. Diplomatic sources, nevertheless, indicated some progress had been made in the talks.