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Friday, February 24, 2012

“Ready to get back to business” with Pakistan (spy chiefs met secretly)


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told her Pakistani counterpart on Thursday. Clinton’s luncheon with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was among the few high-level contacts between the two countries since the November deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border U.S. air raid from Afghanistan. Both are in London for an international conference on Somalia. The frozen relationship has slowly begun to thaw, including in a secret meeting early this month between CIA Director David H. Petraeus and Pakistan’s intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, that focused on counterterrorism cooperation and ongoing U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, said a Washington Post report. Pakistan has said it wants to reset its relations with the United States but will not be ready to do so formally until a special parliamentary committee delivers the results of a study of the matter. “We respect parliament’s right to ... take time to do this in a sensible way, but we had to get ready to get back into business with Pakistan” on bilateral counterterrorism issues including Afghanistan, a senior State Department official said Clinton told Khar. The official said Clinton also told Khar that the administration wanted to resume high-level visits to Pakistan by aid officials and Marc Grossman, the top diplomatic envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congress has indicated it may not approve significant aid for Pakistan this year amid ongoing concerns about its granting of safe havens to the Taliban and other insurgent groups, as well as about its support for Afghanistan peace talks. In a toughly-worded speech Wednesday to Chatham House, a London think tank, Khar said that “contrary to clever word play and cheap headlines, Pakistan’s position could not be more clear.”

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