Pak has proposed third round of strategic dialogue with US in June

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has proposed to the United States holding of third round of strategic dialogue in Washington in June this year. Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said at the weekly news briefing here Wednesday afternoon that during their meeting Pakistan Foreign Secretary and visiting US Deputy Secretary of State exchanged views on the strategic dialogue.

The US side was in interested in early holding of the third round. The two sides also discussed regional issues, including status of composite dialogue and peace process with India and Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan.They also discussed various aspects of bilateral relations especially Reconstruction Opportunity Zones and economic and defence cooperation.

To a question the spokesman said there was no link between Reconstruction Opportunity Zones and the reported proposal of the US to seek free movement of its personnel in FATA. He said Pakistan is pretty much clear that military action on its soil is to be carried out by our forces while similar actions on the other side are responsibility of the ISAF, NATO and Afghan forces.
He said Reconstruction Opportunity Zones are aimed at poverty alleviation in FATA and other economically backward areas of the NWFP and Balochistan. Goods produced in these zones would have duty free access in US market. He said there is legislative movement in the US for establishment of such zones and the United States has also committed 750 million dollars over the next five years for development of FATA.

To a question the spokesman said the visit of Mr. John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher was on the cards for sometime for the current month. Suggestions were made about the timing of the visit because of the political transition in the country but the Deputy Secretary undertook the visit because his meetings and programme were already fixed.
Negroponte met with the President, Speaker National Assembly and leading politicians and his scheduled to meet the Prime Minister today. He also met Chief of Army Staff.

The spokesman told newsmen that the Foreign Office has not received any request from the United States about posting of Major-General Jay W. Hood as the Chief, Office of the Defence Representative at the US Embassy in Islamabad. However, the matter is being looked into. To another question he said it is prerogative of the Government and the Parliament to re-formulate the foreign policy. The spokesman told a questioner that Pakistan and India were in the process of fixing dates for further dialogue.

He said Pakistan-Iran bus service will commence next month. The inaugural bus would leave Quetta for Mashhad on 22nd of next month carrying 40 delegates from Pakistan to Iran including media personnel and officials. He said special arrangement will be made for the security of passengers using the bus service. Initially eight buses a week, four from each side, will operate between the two countries.

The spokesman said the 9th session of High Level Trade Officials of D-8 member states would begin Islamabad tomorrow. Representatives of Developing-8 and Secretary General of the organization will participate in the two day conference. They will discuss the Rules of Origin for the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement, which was signed by the leaders of member countries at the 5th summit at Bali in 2006. To a question the spokesman clarified that Pakistan remains member of the Commonwealth but its right to attend meetings of Council of Commonwealth were suspended.-SANA

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Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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