WASHINGTON - Pakistan and the United States have reaffirmed their commitment to further advance bilateral partnership through the Strategic Dialogue.
Pakistan and the United States have also expressed the view that improved Islamabad-New Delhi relations would enhance the prospects of regional stability and prosperity, while also reaffirming that Afghan-led reconciliation process would help end violence and ensure peace in Afghanistan and the region.
In a joint statement issued after the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, US Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz recognised the significance of improved relations between the two South Asian neighbours.
The day-long meeting, held in a friendly atmosphere, reviewed progress in the Strategic Dialogue’s five working groups on energy; security, strategic stability, and nonproliferation; defence; law enforcement and counterterrorism; and economics and finance.
“Kerry and Aziz recognised the potential for enhanced stability and prosperity from improved bilateral relations between Pakistan and India, benefiting the lives of citizens on both sides of the border,” the joint statement said.
“Towards that end, the United States welcomed Prime Minister Sharif’s vision for a peaceful neighbourhood and efforts for the economic uplift of the people of the region, including steps taken by Pakistan and India to improve their relations,” said the joint statement.
Aziz lead a high-level Pakistani delegation for the talks with the United States. On Tuesday he was scheduled to meet the US National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, at the White House.
There was no mention of the continuing US drone attacks against Pakistani tribal areas either in Monday’s speeches or the joint statement issued after the Strategic Dialogue.
The two leaders also reiterated their commitment to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, which they argued was of paramount importance for regional stability.
Kerry and Aziz stressed that a peaceful, stable, independent, and united Afghanistan is in the interest of the region.
Both sides emphasised their support for a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan and reaffirmed that Afghan-led peace and reconciliation is the surest way to end violence and ensure stability in the region.
The two officials also called on the Taliban to join the political process and enter into dialogue with the Afghan government.
They expressed their conviction that an enduring US-Pakistan partnership is vital to regional and international security.
PAKISTAN TO FACILITATE US DRAWDOWN: AZIZ
With the United States planning to pull its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, Pakistan’s chief diplomat told the Pentagon chief on Tuesday that it would facilitate their withdrawal from the war-torn country.
The Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, who met US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on the sidelines of US-Pak Strategic Dialogue, also underscored Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism.
An official press release said the two leaders discussed bilateral security cooperation and identified key priorities for strengthening the defence partnership in the future.
The Advisor was accompanied by Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defence and Water & Power, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani, Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik and the Army Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad.
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, also attended the meeting.
The Advisor expressed satisfaction that positive momentum in defence exchanges over the last one year has helped both sides make significant progress in a number of areas such as Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs), Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) cooperation and Counter terrorism. He underscored Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism and facilitate US drawdown from Afghanistan.
The Advisor emphasised that a forward looking, broad-based and enduring defence partnership between Pakistan and the US was critical for security and stability in the region.
Both sides expressed the hope that a forthcoming Defence Resourcing Conference will help consolidate the existing framework of bilateral security cooperation.