Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pakistan-US strategic dialogue, scheduled to take place later this month, is likely to be postponed in the aftermath of the Abbottabad operation that ended the decade-long hunt for the world’s most wanted man.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to head a US delegation arriving in Islamabad by the last week of May, however developments surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden have thrown the parleys in doubts, officials told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
“The dialogue was supposed to take place this month but no dates have been finalised yet,” a Foreign Office official who spoke on condition of anonymity was quoted as saying.
He added that the death of al Qaeda leader in a US commando raid in Abbottabad last Monday overshadowed the talks, as the Obama administration had yet to confirm the Secretary of State’s visit to Islamabad.

Another official said the two sides were working on the dates but failed to provide a given timeline.
A US embassy spokesperson was not forthcoming about the details surrounding the strategic dialogue.
“Yes, we have strategic dialogue with Pakistan but I have no information if the talks are taking place later this month,” said US embassy spokesperson Alberto Rodriguez.
Senator John Kerry, the chairman of Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee will be the first US official to arrive on Pakistani soil since the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2.  Kerry announced that he would travel to Pakistan early next week to put ties with Islamabad back “on the right track”, AFP reported.
Asked whether he would press Pakistani leaders on whether officials there knew the al Qaeda chief was living a stone’s throw from an elite military academy for years, Kerry told reporters he would be discussing “all the relevant issues that are on the table, and there are a lot of them.”
The White House has attached great significance to the Kerry visit, as some senior US officials have indicated that the Bin Laden episode could ‘make or break’ ties with Pakistan.
The last round of talks was held in October 2010 in Washington.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2011.
By Zemtv

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