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
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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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