US Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz would meet here next week and expected to come up with a “blueprint” on the future of the bilateral ties.
“There won’t be specific announcements, but there will be a blueprint produced in terms of where we continue to take this relationship and how we continue to advance it,” a senior State Department official said yesterday.
The much anticipated Strategic Dialogue between the two sides is scheduled to be held in Washington on Monday. This is the first high-level meeting between top officials of the two countries after the October meeting of President Barack Obama with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the White House.
“Having seen the highs and lows of this relationship over the last four and a half years, both countries have put an enormous amount of effort into assiduously putting this relationship on firmer ground over the last year and a half,” he said.
“This is really kind of the fruition of it, but not in any way the end point. It’s yet another conversation, continuing the dialogue and continuing to strengthen that,” he added.
Another senior State Department official said on the security side, a major focus of discussions between the two sides is expected as Prime Minister Sharif has been helping to promote a stable and productive transition in Afghanistan through what’s going to be an important year with national elections, with the drawdown in US and NATO forces.
Leading a high-powered Pakistan delegation for the talks with top US officials, Aziz is scheduled to arrive here over the weekend.
Aziz, also the Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security, is also expected to meet other top officials of the Obama Administration including those at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Energy among others.
“The Prime Minister had an excellent visit here, a very comprehensive set of meetings. I think he went back very pleased. Kerry had a similarly good visit, established a good relationship with the National Security Advisor.
“So, at a personal level I think people are comfortable with each other, they’ve gotten to know each other, and the dialogue can be very candid, a first-name basis sort of thing,” another State Department official said.
The US-Pak Strategic Dialogue was initiated during the first term of the Obama Administration during the tenure of Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State.
In 2010, there were three rounds of Strategic Dialogue between both sides.
It was interrupted in 2011 and 2012 due to the strain in bilateral relationship, but was officially renewed during Kerry’s visit to Pakistan in August where the two sides announced that they were going to resume this process.
The Dialogue has five sub-components — energy, defense, strategic stability, economic and finance, and law enforcement and counter-terrorism.