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Friday, August 2, 2013

The U.S. secretary of state arrives in Pakistan

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Islamabad to start his first official visit to Pakistan, where he will meet with key civil and military authorities of the country, an official source told. Kerry landed last night and today has a busy schedule of visits that included the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, the Special Advisor to Foreign Sartaj Aziz, the newly elected president, mamnun Hussein, and army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani. The chief U.S. diplomat will leave the country tonight after completing his round of meetings in the capital, said the spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, Megan Gregonis. Kerry's visit was expected a month ago, when he toured several countries in the region, including India, but the arrival in Islamabad was postponed for alleged scheduling problems. In local political circles the delay was attributed to the lack of harmony between Washington and the new Pakistani government, out of the polls last May, especially regarding U.S. bombing with spy planes or drones. The government headed by Nawaz Sharif has referred to these operations against the insurgency in terms even more critical than the previous Popular Party government, and reiterated their intention to discuss the matter with Kerry.

Withdrawal of troops

Another point that in all likelihood be on the agenda will be the role of Pakistan in the final phase of the withdrawal of troops from neighboring Afghanistan and allies in the peace process in that country, in which all actors suggest a key role of Islamabad. Sharif last night chaired a meeting of the leadership of the civil and military power to prepare the meetings today with Kerry. Kerry has been defined as a friend of Pakistan and his appointment earlier this year gave birth to hopes of a rapprochement between Islamabad and Washington, whose relations have experienced historic lows in recent years because of various disagreements. A U.S. need to heal the wounds with old ally Pakistan on the eve of the departure of the troops from Afghanistan joins the desperate financial situation of Pakistani coffers , indicating a propensity to bring positions.

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