The United States and Pakistan will hold their first Strategic Dialogue at the Ministerial level in Washington, DC, on March 24. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will co-chair the talks. Topics for discussion will include economic development, water and energy, education, foreign policy, communications and public diplomacy, agriculture, and security.
On Friday, March 19, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke briefed the press on the upcoming dialogue. Ambassador Holbrooke said, "[N]ext week is an important week in U.S.-Pakistani relations. For the first time, our strategic dialogue will be headed on the American side by the Secretary of State. This was a decision taken personally, of course, by Secretary Clinton after her trip and conversations with Foreign Minister Qureshi when she was in Islamabad and Lahore in October of last year. We announced it then, and we're very, very pleased it's taking place next week. It marks a major intensification of our partnership, and we welcome the extremely high caliber delegation which Pakistan is sending. It will be lead, of course, by Foreign Minister Qureshi.
"President Obama and Secretary Clinton have long stressed the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. This is a partnership that goes far beyond security, but security's an important part of it. It represents a shared commitment on the part of both nations to strengthening the bilateral relationship, and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.
"The United States is supporting Pakistan as it seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, as it seeks to foster more economic development, expand opportunities, deal with its energy and water problems, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten both Pakistan's security and stability in the larger region, and American national security as well."
Read the full text of Ambassador Holbrooke's briefing here.