U.S., Pakistan to Discuss Counterterrorism Cooperation in March

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistani national security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz arrive at a ministerial-level meeting at the State Department in Washington on Monday. Diplomats from the two nations will meet in March to discuss new cooperation on countering terrorism.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Jan. 28, 2014, 5:46 a.m.

U.S. and Pakistani dip­lo­mats will meet in March to dis­cuss “ad­di­tion­al joint steps” to counter ter­ror­ism, the two na­tions said in a joint state­ment.

The Monday re­lease by the State De­part­ment fol­lowed the first min­is­teri­al-level meet­ing of the U.S.-Pakistan Stra­tegic Dia­logue since 2011, held in Wash­ing­ton.

The up­com­ing Law En­force­ment and Coun­terter­ror­ism Work­ing Group gath­er­ing, also in Wash­ing­ton, will ad­dress “coun­terter­ror­ism co­oper­a­tion and as­sist­ance, as well as ad­di­tion­al joint steps to counter im­pro­vised ex­plos­ive devices, dis­rupt ter­ror­ist fin­an­cing, and im­prove bor­der man­age­ment,” the two sides said.

At this week’s meet­ings, U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry hos­ted a Pakistani del­eg­a­tion, led by na­tion­al se­cur­ity ad­viser to the prime min­is­ter, Sartaj Aziz.

In the writ­ten state­ment, Wash­ing­ton’s top dip­lo­mat voiced as­sur­ance that Pakistan is de­voted to en­sur­ing the se­cur­ity of its nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al.

“Sec­ret­ary Kerry ex­pressed con­fid­ence in Pakistan’s com­mit­ment and ded­ic­a­tion to nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity and ap­pre­ci­ation for Pakistan’s ef­forts to im­prove its stra­tegic trade con­trols,” reads the joint state­ment. “He also re­cog­nized that Pakistan is fully en­gaged with the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity on nuc­le­ar safety and se­cur­ity is­sues.”

Is­lamabad’s abil­ity to pro­tect its ex­pand­ing nuc­le­ar arms en­ter­prise has been an on­go­ing con­cern for Wash­ing­ton amid fears that Pakistani-based mil­it­ants might launch at­tacks on mil­it­ary bases that hold stra­tegic ma­ter­i­als.

“I think few have suffered more at the hands of ter­ror­ists and ex­trem­ists than the people of Pakistan,” Kerry said in pub­lic re­marks on Monday pri­or to the stra­tegic dia­logue. “It re­mains es­sen­tial for the United States and Pakistan to con­tin­ue to find av­en­ues of co­oper­a­tion on coun­terter­ror­ism, on nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity.”

The two gov­ern­ments are work­ing to move past a 2012 break­down in re­la­tions over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. Pres­id­ent Obama in Oc­to­ber hos­ted Pakistani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif for a White House meet­ing, where he also ex­pressed con­fid­ence in Pakistani nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity.

“The re­sump­tion of this dia­logue after a gap of three years sym­bol­izes the in­her­ent re­si­li­ence and sig­ni­fic­ance of this re­la­tion­ship,” Aziz said.

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