ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the US will hold a strategic dialogue this month to enhance cooperation in areas like defence and counter-terrorrism, days after the Obama administration decided to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to it.
The 6th round of the strategic dialogue on February 29 in Washington will be led by Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Aziz on Wednesday reviewed the progress of previous rounds of the meeting at the Foreign Ministry.
“The upcoming meeting will afford an important opportunity to take stock of the entire gamut of Pakistan’s bilateral relations with the US,” the Foreign Office said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s US visit in October 2015 had provided impetus to the dialogue mechanism, and this will be the third annual meeting since he assumed office in 2013.
The dialogue process began in 2010 and the two countries held three ministerial meetings. It was, however, interrupted in 2011 when the US forces killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in a midnight raid. The process resumed in 2014 when Aziz and Kerry met in Washington in January.
The key meeting will take place soon after the US announced to provide eight F-16 fighter jets worth USD 700 million to Pakistan, despite objection from India and mounting opposition from influential American lawmakers.
India had summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey its “displeasure and disappointment” over the decision.
During the 6th strategic dialogue, the US and Pakistan would discuss cooperation in economy and finance, energy, education, science and technology, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, security, strategic stability and non-proliferation, and defence, officials said.
Aziz’s review meeting at the foreign ministry was attended by federal ministers for Planning and Development, Petroleum & Natural Resources as well as key federal secretaries.