News / Asia

Top US Envoy in Talks with Pakistani, Afghan Officials

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman (C), U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter (L), and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker attend a tripartite meeting of Pakistani, U.S. and Afghan officials at the foreign ministry
U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman (C), U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter (L), and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker attend a tripartite meeting of Pakistani, U.S. and Afghan officials at the foreign ministry
TEXT SIZE - +

U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman has held further talks with Pakistani leaders to discuss reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

The talks come as the two allies in the war against terrorism are trying to ease diplomatic tensions that have worsened since al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando raid into Pakistan on May 2.

U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman, who has been in Pakistan since Monday, attended the latest round of talks between senior Afghan, U.S. and Pakistani officials in Islamabad on coordinating efforts aimed at ending the violence in Afghanistan.

US, Pakistan tensions

The American envoy, who met with Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani on Wednesday, has also held extensive detailed discussions on bilateral ties between Islamabad and Washington. An official statement suggests that the primary focus of the talks was establishing peace in Afghanistan, but it is not clear whether the issue of travel curbs on U.S diplomats in Pakistan was discussed.

Pakistani officials, however, say there has been an extensive exchange of views in the formal talks, and that the two sides have agreed to resolve the issue of travel curbs on U.S. diplomats in a "friendly manner" to ensure it does not undermine their joint counter-terror campaign.

Speaking in Islamabad Tuesday night, Grossman acknowledged that bilateral ties have encountered difficulties in recent months. He said that Pakistan and the United States are working closely to resolve the issue of travel restrictions on American diplomats in Pakistan.

“American diplomats in Pakistan are free to travel," said Grossman. "The government of Pakistan has some regulations and it has got some requirements and we are trying together to figure out how to meet those requirements. I am absolutely certain we will be able to do so in a way that will allow the government of Pakistan to meet its requirements and allow American diplomats to travel freely in Pakistan," he said.

U.S. officials argue that the Vienna Convention allows U.S. diplomats freedom of movement  in Pakistan, particularly when they travel to cities where U.S. consulates are located.

Earlier this week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar denied reports her country has placed travel curbs on U.S. diplomats.

“There are no specific-to-a-certain-nationality restrictions anywhere in Pakistan on diplomatic movement, not specific to any nationality," said Khar. "There are general rules and codes of conduct, which are applicable to every diplomat functioning in Pakistan. So let me just clarify that there are no specific to any specific nationality action(s) anywhere in Pakistan,” she said.

Pakistani officials maintain that the restrictions on foreign diplomats are not new and are meant to ensure the personal security of diplomats while they travel around the country, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants have carried out frequent suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.

Rebuilding trust

In his meeting with Grossman on Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari called on the United States to agree to what he called “clear terms of engagement” to avoid future problems in bilateral ties. Maleeha Lodhi once served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington.

“I think both countries also realize that they don’t want to see a complete breakdown and that a complete breakdown must be averted," says Lodhi. "There are, after all, common interests that bind the two countries. There may be tactical differences in how to achieve those goals, but the two key goals are the defeat of al-Qaida as well as the effort to end the war in Afghanistan through a political settlement in which Pakistan has a key role to play.”

Pakistani civilian and military officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that they want to redefine and restructure the country’s relationship with the United States to make sure Pakistan’s “national interests” are safeguarded.

They insist that an agreement between Washington and Islamabad is needed on the a number of issues causing bilateral frictions, including the number of CIA personnel deployed in Pakistan and the use of missile strikes by U.S. drones against militant hideouts on Pakistani territory, which Pakistani authorities say fuel anti-American sentiment in the country.

Former ambassador Lodhi says that under the current circumstances, Islamabad and Washington have no option other than to work closely if they want to promote their shared goal of strengthening peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

“I think the two countries will also have to see where they can find the common ground so that they can begin to rebuild the relationship, because I think what is being lost is a great deal, if not all, of the trust between the two capitals.”

Abbottabad raid

Angered by the U.S. covert raid that killed bin Laden, Islamabad cut back on U.S. military trainers and tightened restrictions on CIA officials in the country. The curbs on the movement of American diplomats are seen as part of the same punitive policy.

But the presence of the fugitive chief of al-Qaida in a Pakistani garrison town, undetected for several years, annoyed Washington.

The tensions stemming from the Abbottabad raid have also led to the suspension of about a third of the $2.7 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Pakistan.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid