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Pakistan: John Kerry opens talks on anti-terror cooperation

1st Aug 2013

ISLAMABAD, (Xinhua): Visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday opened talks in Pakistan on cooperation to effectively fight terrorism.

The talks also focused on the controversial drone strikes, enhancing economic cooperation and the role the two sides play in elusive Afghan peace, officials said.

Kerry, who is the first senior American official to visit Pakistan since the new government assumed office in June, arrived in Islamabad late on Wednesday to review prospects for future relationship with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.

The delegation level talks started at the foreign office in Islamabad Thursday morning, the Foreign Ministry sources said.

The Pakistani delegation is being led by Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

The two sides are discussing bilateral relations,the Afghan situation and cooperation in diverse fields including energy and education, officials said.

The Foreign Ministry had earlier said that Pakistan would raise the issue of controversial U.S. drone attacks in the country’s tribal regions.

John Kerry will later meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and both sides are expected to discuss resumption of strategic dialogue as well as cooperation in diverse fields including energy.

The strategic dialogue between the two countries suspended after NATO fighter jets bombed a Pakistani post which killed 24 soldiers in November 2011. The last round of talks was held in October 2010 in Washington.

U.S. officials in Washington were quoted as saying that the secretary of state will reinforce Washington’s continuing commitment to Pakistan during his visit.

A statement released by U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki in Washington said Kerry is in Pakistan for consultations with the newly elected civilian government and to reinforce the U. S. continuing commitment to the Pakistani people.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday discussed with top officials the agenda for talks with John Kerry, officials said.

The prime minister’s office said a meeting of all relevant stakeholders was called to discuss important regional developments including those relating to Afghanistan.

The U.S. secretary of state was previously expected to arrive in Pakistan on July 29. However, the trip was later postponed due to his engagement with the Syrian and Middle East issues and the illness of his wife

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Sectarianism in the Middle East and its rise in the UK, Standpoint, Sahar TV. Interview 29 May 2013 and aired on 12 June 2013

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