US times strategic dialogue with Obama’s India visit

Updated December 16, 2014

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US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington. - Reuters/File
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press at the State Department in Washington. - Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The United States plans to hold the next round of strategic dialogue with Pakistan around the time President Barack Obama will visit New Delhi, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Islamabad in late January for the next session of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

The dialogue, which provides a platform for focused discussions on key issues, re-started in January this year after a gap of 18 months during which relations between the two countries reached a record low.

“I know the secretary is eager to get there in 2015. So hopefully, we’ll have something to announce in the coming weeks,” said US State Department Spokes­person Jen Psaki, when asked if the two sides would be holding the strategic dialogue in Islamabad next month.

President Obama plans to visit New Delhi in the last week of January to attend the Indian Republic Day on Jan 26.

At a recent Congressional hearing, Principal Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jarrett Blanc confirmed that the two countries were “planning for a strategic dialogue ministerial session early in 2015.”

“Our policy of sustained engagement to date has yielded tangible incremental results. A stable, prosperous Pakistan that plays a constructive role in the region is in both our countries’ interests and has an acute effect on the region,” Mr Blanc said.

“We expect that this dialogue and cooperation will continue and increase, well beyond the transition in Afghanistan. We also recognise that our engagement with Pakistan is critical to advancing our regional objectives.”

Mr Blanc said that the US-Pakistan relationship was not only vital to US national security but it was also important for maintaining peace and stability in South Asia.

Mr Blanc disagreed with a suggestion that Pakistan was on a downward slope. “It is often easy to criticise its imperfect progress but it is also easy to overlook its successes,” he said.

The US official pointed out that in May 2013, Pakistan made its first democratic transition from one civilian government to another and it has continued on this path despite troubles.

Published in Dawn December 16th , 2014