News / Asia

US, Pakistan Pledge to Deepen Cooperation, Fortify Friendship

The United States and Pakistan have ended their first ever U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue at the ministerial level with a pledge to deepen cooperation in defense, security, economy, trade, and other areas.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said they are committed to improving bilateral relations.

They reiterated that the core of the partnership is shared democratic values, mutual trust and mutual respect.  

Washington pledged to help Pakistan overcome its energy shortages, improve market access for Pakistani goods, help the country overcome socio-economic challenges, and carry out future talks on improving the country's water conservation and use.

The two sides reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, and agreed that the next meeting of the dialogue will be held in Islamabad.

However, there was no mention of whether the discussions included a civilian nuclear agreement similar to one Washington signed with India.

Qureshi said earlier he had "very satisfactory" talks on the nuclear deal, but did not elaborate during an interview with Reuters news agency.

U.S. officials are reluctant to move forward with such a nuclear deal.  That is partly because Islamabad has long refused U.S. requests to question the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who admitted selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

The two sides also signed a "Letter of Intent" regarding cooperation in construction of priority roads in northwestern Pakistan.

The project will consist of $40 million in U.S. aid to upgrade two key roads - the Peshawar Ring Road and the Kanju-Madyan road in Swat valley.



Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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