Clinton calls Khar, discusses next steps in US-Pakistan dialogue, Kabul situation

 WASHINGTON, April 16 : Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday and discussed “next steps” in the U.S.-Pakistan dialogue in the light of the parliamentary recommendations on bilateral ties.
 Deputy Spokesman at the State Department Mark Toner said the two diplomats also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with reference to Weekend attacks in Kabul.
 “Secretary Clinton spoke with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khar a few hours ago, and they did discuss next steps in the U.S.-Pakistani dialogue in light of the conclusion of this parliamentary review. They also, of course, discussed yesterday’s attacks in Afghanistan. But they did raise the parliamentary review process and our willingness to engage in a dialogue with Pakistan,” Toner said.
 The chief U.S. diplomat made the call to her Pakistani counterpart from Brasilia, the capital of Brazil during her travel in Latin America.
 At the State Department in Washington, spokesman Toner would not go into  specifics of the discussions between two diplomats but added the U. S would be ready to listen to Pakistani concerns raised in the parliamentary review.He described the parliamentary review as a sign of democratic development in  Pakistan.
 “I can’t get into the specifics of whether they discussed the specifics. I think – look, our posture right now is we recognize that this has been a long and difficult road for Pakistan. It speaks, frankly, to the strength of the – of Pakistan’s democratic institutions that this parliamentary review has taken place, that the civilian government has taken the lead on this issue, has owned it, and has come up with a series of recommendations. I think it’s incumbent on us now to engage with them in a discussion about some of those recommendations,” the spokesman said, when pressed whether Washington would be discussing all issues raised by the Pakistani reveiew.
 According to reports from Brasilia, Secretary Clinton stressed the shared U.S. and Pakistani responsibility in combating terrorist threat in the region after a string of Taliban attacks in high-security areas housing diplomatic missions and NATO offices in the Afghan capital Kabul.
 The Pentagon, meanwhile, has said it has no evidence to suggest that the attacks – blamed on Haqqani militant network – emanated out of Pakistan.
 Islamabad and Washington are looking to put their ties back on track, more than four months after the Nov 26, 2011 NATO cross-border strikes on Salalah checkposts, which killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers and plunged the relations to their lowest in more than a decade.
 Senior American and Pakistani diplomats are expected to hold meetings in the upcoming weeks. The Pakistani Finance Minister and Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman will meet U.S. officials to disucss reviving the bilateral relationship in wide-ranging areas.
 The incident in November 2011 prompted Islamabad to close two key supply routes for NATO supplies into landlocked Afghanistan and set in motion an unprecedented parliamentary review of Pakistan-U.S. relationship, which had already been tested by a string of incidents last year including a raid on slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbotabad.
 Washington considers the relationship critical to a successful outcome of the decade-old Afghan war as well as for peace and security in Afghanistan and the region beyond 2014, the NATO-set deadline for end to its combat mission and complete handover of security responsibility to Afghan forces.
 The long-awaited parliamentary review has reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism and allows the use of Pakistani soil for transportation of non-lethal NATO supplies to Afghanistan. It also explicitly demands an immediate end to controversial U.S. drone strikes against militant targets in Pakistani tribal areas.
 Source: U.S State Department, Pentagon


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