Pakistan and the United States will hold talks on issues of bilateral defence and security cooperation in Washington from February 13 (Monday) to 16 (Thursday).

A press release from the Foreign Office issued today (Sunday) said the talks will be the second round of the Pakistan-US Mid-Level Defence Dialogue after the first round was held in Pakistan in January 2021.

“Pakistan’s inter-agency delegation, led by the chief of general staff, will comprise of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joint Staff Headquarters and three services headquarters. The US multi-agency team will be represented by the office of undersecretary of defence,” the FO said.

Recently in an interview with Dawn in Washington, US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet had emphasised the need to assist Islamabad in fighting terrorists, who had recently killed over 80 people inside a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines compound.

Chollet, who conducts special diplomatic assignments for the US Secretary of State, is due in Islamabad the coming week for talks on a wide range of issues.

“For the US, it’s going to be about how we can deepen the partnership further and help Pakistan as it’s trying to deal with what is an unquestionably challenging economic situation,” said the senior US diplomat when asked what the top item on his agenda would be.

Pakistan, he noted, was still recovering from the floods, and was also dealing with an “emerging counterterrorism threat”, which had made the situation even worse.

Chollet had pointed out that the US and Pakistan were already taking steps to further strengthen their ties which went through a phase of disengagement during the Afghan war but started improving soon after the withdrawal of US troops from Kabul.

“I believe the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks will be here in Washington in the last week of February, so the week after I’m back … and we will also hold a counterterrorism dialogue next month,” he had said.

The counterterrorism dialogue, which may be held in Islamabad next month, will focus on groups like the banned militant groups Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan, which have once again increased their activities in the region.

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