U.S., Pakistan Vow Broader Cooperation
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The U.S. and Pakistan began high-level talks today here in Washington. The goal: to build a stronger, long-term relationships between the two countries. Among the issues on the agenda during the two days of meetings are security, American military aid and help with Pakistan's economy.
NPR's Jackie Northam reports.
JACKIE NORTHAM: The meetings are being hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and include top level American and Pakistani officials. Although the so-called strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the U.S. officially starts today, it's actually the culmination of months of smaller cabinet level meetings between the two countries.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan are complex and have been fraught with distrust for years. Washington wants Pakistan to make an even greater commitment in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida, including the arrest of top militant leaders taking shelter on Pakistani soil.
In return, Islamabad wants to make sure the U.S. will make a long-term commitment to Pakistan, which would include military and economic assistance for many years. Pakistan is also pushing for a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, similar to the one its regional rival India has.
George Perkovich with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says despite the mutual distrust and suspicion, Pakistan and the U.S. are seeing whether they can develop a fuller relationship.
Mr. GEORGE PERKOVICH (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace): I think that's where the two countries are right now. We both feel like we've been betrayed, but we want to go forward, so let's give it a try. And now they're trying to clarify, well, what would that look like? What would the terms be?
NORTHAM: The Pakistani delegation reportedly handed over a massive list of requests to their American counterparts that includes unmanned surveillance planes, helicopters, help on energy and water issues, economic aid and curbing India's growing influence in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistans foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said the U.S. agreed to fast-track long-standing requests for some military equipment. But U.S. officials say the talks are not just about one side asking and the other side giving. Instead, it's more about trying to build a robust partnership.
Secretary Clinton said the strategic dialogue is the start of something new. But she acknowledged that there will be disagreements ahead between the two countries.
Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.
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