Dawn News

Khar to meet Clinton in Tokyo

WASHINGTON, July 5: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will meet in Tokyo this weekend to review the possibilities of rebuilding the US-Pakistan relationship, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

Representatives of about 70 countries will meet on July 8 at a conference in Tokyo to discuss support for Afghanistan in the critical years following the departure of most Nato forces in 2014.

Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Khar will be representing their countries at this meeting and diplomatic sources in Washington say they will have a separate meeting on the sidelines of the conference.

The Khar-Clinton meeting follows an agreement on Tuesday to reopen ground supply lines to Afghanistan closed after the Nov 26 US air raid on a Pakistani military post, which killed 24 soldiers.

“This was a win-win agreement for both,” said a diplomatic source.

“Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Khar now take up the more difficult task of rebuilding a frayed relationship.”

Pakistan would ideally want restoration of a strategic dialogue between the two countries, unfreezing the Kerry-Lugar aid package and accelerating bilateral trade.

Pakistan would also want a greater involvement in the Afghan reconciliation process.

In a nutshell, Pakistan wants to return the relationship to where it was before the Americans discovered and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year.

But there seems little desire in the US to go back to pre-Abbottabad days. US officials and lawmakers have both been careful in welcoming the agreement that led to the reopening of supply lines.

Even Secretary Clinton, who uttered the magical word — ‘sorry’ — that led to the reopening of routes, did not speak of restoring the strategic dialogue.

Instead, she emphasised the need for enhancing “counter-terrorism cooperation against terrorists that threaten Pakistan and the United States, with the goal of defeating Al Qaeda in the region”.

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