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Pakistani military to be part of strategic dialogue: Holbrooke

March 20, 2010 02:39 IST

The Obama Administration's Af-Pak envoy said on Friday that there can be no strategic dialogue with Pakistan without the active participation of its military and the talks should not be at the expense of India. This is the reason why Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani and Inter Services Intelligence Chief Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha have been included in the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue slated to be held in Washington next week.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmoud Qureshi would be co-chairing the day-long meeting on March 24. "How can you have a strategic dialogue without including the military," Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

"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. 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 defeating, destroying al-Qaeda, helping the Afghans become self-reliant so they can take care of their own security, strengthening Pakistan's ability to own security, development, strengthening democratic institutions; all the things that Secretary Clinton talked about during her trip. "So we need to sit down with our Pakistani friends and hear their points of view and give us 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 to move into operational things in such areas as 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 Foreign Minister Qureshi, Minister of Defence Ahmed Mukhtar, the Finance Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, 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 Mullen and US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson among others.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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