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Dialogue with Pak not at India's expense: US

March 20, 2010 12:19 IST

The United States has made it clear that its first strategic dialogue with Pakistan next week is not being held at India's expense, even as it said it is 'pleased' that Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is part of Islamabad's delegation as there can be no such talks without the military participation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmoud Qureshi would be co-chairing the day-long meeting on March 24.

Inter Services Intelligence chief Shuja Pasha will also be part of the Pakistani delegation.

"How can you have a strategic dialogue without including the military," Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, told mediapersons in Washington, DC.

"If we have a strategic dialogue in our country, we're going to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff or some other representative. So we are very pleased that General Kayani is part of this delegation. We think that it's one country, one government, one team. It was their decision, and we welcomed it," Holbrooke said.

Responding to a question, Holbrooke said the strategic dialogue with Pakistan is not at the expense of India or any other country.

"We have an important strategic dialogue with India and with other countries, including China. (It) makes it all the more important we have one with Pakistan. But this is a bilateral dialogue. This strategic dialogue with Pakistan is not at the expense of any other country in the region," he said.

Holbrooke said the strategic dialogue means that the two countries talk about their basic core objectives, which is defeating, destroying Al Qaeda, helping the Afghans become self-reliant so they can take care of their own security and strengthening Pakistan's ability to own security, development, strengthening democratic institutions.

"So we need to sit down with our Pakistani friends and hear their points of view and give ours. Now, we've all been going to Islamabad and they've all been coming here," he said, adding beyond the strategic discussions, the broad range discussions include moving into operational things in areas like water, energy and other issues.

Holbrooke said the next round of US-Pakistan strategic dialogue would be held in Islamabad in next six months. The Pakistani delegation of the next week's meeting include Qureshi, Kayani, Pasha, Minister of Defence Ahmed Mukhtar and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, among others.

The US delegation would be led by Clinton and will include Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, among others.

Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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