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US, Pakistan Convene Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

October 20, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA / REUTERS) — U.S. and Pakistani officials are meeting in Washington Wednesday to begin a third round of a strategic dialogue started earlier this year.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, will lead the three days of talks.

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 seen as part of an effort to ease tension stemming from recent NATO and U.S. military strikes on the Pakistan side of the border. U.S. impatience with Pakistan’s hesitance to fight insurgents has also stirred tensions.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Pakistan is beginning to cooperate more and that this week’s meetings will be an opportunity for U.S. officials to outline to the Pakistanis what else must be done.

U.S. President Barack Obama is also 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 meetings will include talk of refocusing U.S. civilian aid to help Pakistan rebuild after its devastating floods. The defense and military chiefs of the two countries will also 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 ten 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 in this story was provided by Reuters.

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