Strategic Pakstan-US dialogue to resume by February

Islamabad, Dec 19 : The strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the US, suspended in 2010, will resume by February in the perspective of the post-2014 situation in the region after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

This was stated by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while winding up a debate Wednesday on foreign policy with particular reference to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's US visit, drone attacks and effect of the expected reduction in the number of forces in Afghanistan next year, the Dawn reported Thursday.

The talks were suspended after the Raymond Davis incident, in which the former CIA contractor killed two armed men in Lahore, the attack on the Salala military post, and the US raid in Abbottabad that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Aziz said four of the six working groups which were scheduled to meet before the start of the strategic dialogue had already met.

Aziz said the government has for the first time taken a clear stance on drone attacks and conveyed its concern to the US.

He said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had agreed that elections in his country should not be contested on anti-Pakistan rhetoric. He expressed the hope that the peace process with India would resume soon after the elections.

Aziz assured the house that the new national security policy would be placed before parliament.

He said the first priority of foreign policy was to have a "peaceful neighbourhood".

He claimed that there had been considerable reduction in anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan after three meetings between Prime Minister Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a new border management system was being prepared to check movement on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

About the US-Taliban talks in Doha, he said Pakistan has facilitated the process but, according to his information, the process has been disrupted and it would not go ahead.

He did not say anything about the government's policy for talks with Taliban which, according to him, concerned the interior ministry.

--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)

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