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US, Pakistan Conduct Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (file)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (file)

U.S. and Pakistani officials are meeting Wednesday in Washington to begin a third round of a strategic dialogue aimed at strengthening ties between their two nations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will lead the three days of talks focusing on a range of topics, including agriculture, defense, water, and law enforcement. Clinton and Qureshi will wrap up the dialogue with a formal meeting on Friday.

The U.S. is expected to offer Pakistan as much as $2 billion over five years to help fight insurgents along its border with Afghanistan.

The offer is part of an effort to ease tensions stemming from recent NATO and U.S. military strikes on the Pakistan side of the border. U.S. impatience with Pakistan's hesitation to fight insurgents also has stirred tensions.

U.S. President Barack Obama also is holding talks on Pakistan and Afghanistan Wednesday with his security advisers at the White House.

President Obama's closed-door discussions are likely to cover Washington's support for the Afghan government's recent efforts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban, as well as U.S.-Pakistan relations.

The three-day U.S.-Pakistan meeting will include talk of refocusing U.S. civilian aid to help Pakistan rebuild after its devastating floods. Additionally, the defense and military chiefs of the two countries will take part in the strategic dialogue.

Tensions erupted last month after a NATO helicopter mistakenly killed two Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Pakistan responded by closing a key crossing point for NATO supply convoys into Afghanistan, an action that exposed the trucks to attacks by Pakistani militants. The United States apologized for the deaths, and Pakistani authorities reopened the crossing after 10 days.

The U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue began in Washington in March and continued during Secretary Clinton's visit to Pakistan in July.

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