Deputy US special representative for the region Frank Ruggiro is due in the capital on Monday (today) as part of ongoing efforts by Washington to defuse tension with Pakistan and revive the strategic dialogue.
The visit is part of a series of trips undertaken by US officials in recent weeks to repair ties first frayed by the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis and then damaged after the Abbottabad raid in which al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed.
One of the purposes of his interactions with the Pakistani authorities is to resume the strategic dialogue, said a Foreign Ministry official, who requested not to be named.
But the official tried to play down the controversy, saying: “Preparatory work is underway for the strategic dialogue.” “Dates have not been fixed yet,” the official added. However, he said the final dates were expected to be finalised during the visit. The official also insisted that the scope of the strategic dialogue was not being narrowed down as reported by some section of the press.
“We have to prioritise the issues. We want to have more focused discussions on issues which we believe need urgent attention,” he explained.
Unlike the previous talks, the forthcoming strategic dialogue is expected only to focus on counter-terrorism, economy, energy and market access.
However, some sources say the talks are unlikely to take place anytime soon because of the overall relationships between the two countries.
“I don’t foresee the strategic dialogue taking place in near future,” said a military source.
However, a Pakistani diplomat says: “Things are not as bad as being portrayed in the media.”
“It is an overstatement that the relations between the two countries are at the lowest ebb at the moment,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2011.
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