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US, Pakistan Review Economic, Security and Stabilization Goals

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz (R) before a meeting in Islamabad, January 13, 2015.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has praised the progress made by Pakistan's military in its fight against militants in the country's northwest. His comments came in Islamabad, where U.S. and Pakistani officials have discussed shared goals on trade, economic development and counter terrorism at a strategic dialogue session.

As they sat across from each other in a large room, flanked by their advisors, Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistani National Security advisor Sartaj Aziz outlined the progress the two countries had made through cooperation on projects in five areas: energy, economic growth, community stabilization, education and health.

They also announced the establishment of a sixth working group that will deal with science and technology.

Kerry said since the last strategic dialogue convened, the U.S. and Pakistan had focused on expanding bilateral investment and trade.

“Annual two-way commerce has already reached more than $5 billion, and the United States is now, today, Pakistan’s largest export market,” said Kerry.

He also said the partnership between the U.S and Pakistan had to reflect the “interconnectedness” of the region, and that included finding avenues of cooperation between Pakistan and India and working together to support security and stability in Afghanistan.

“The recent visit to Kabul by two of Pakistan’s top military officers and the head of its intelligence service are extremely encouraging signs of what I hope will be a new era in the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Kerry.

Later, during a joint news conference with Kerry, Aziz said Pakistan wants peaceful relations with its neighbors, both on its eastern and western borders.

"We hope, therefore, that the U.S. as an influential member of the international community can prevail upon India to work with Pakistan towards regional peace and economic prosperity," said Aziz.

He also said that during the strategic dialogue talks, the U.S. and Pakistan agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan is a prerequisite for stability in Pakistan and the region.