ISLAMABAD: The US Secretary of State Senator John Kerry will arrive late on Wednesday night on a day’s visit to resume the dialogue with the Nawaz Sharif government in Islamabad with officials saying that there was a possibility of resuming the strategic dialogue.
Several meetings were held in various ministries, institutions and the prime minister’s office to streamline an agreed agenda to be taken up with the US leader.
Not only is Kerry in a new role as secretary of state but he also meets with a new prime minister, a national security adviser and the new president-elect here as well. Whether he sees President Zardari is not yet clear.
“The visit of Secretary John Kerry will provide a welcome opportunity for the two sides to discuss issues of mutual cooperation and bilateral interest. If the two sides agree, there is a possibility of resuming the strategic dialogue during the visit. The discussions will focus on trade, investment and energy cooperation. The regional situation will also be discussed with particular reference to post 2014,” said the spokesman at the Foreign Office though he appeared guarded when asked what Pakistan’s suggestions will be to take forward the reconciliation process inside Afghanistan.
“Our role is to facilitate and we will certainly give importance to what is asked of us, but remember as Mr. Sartaj Aziz said, we do not control the Taliban,” he added.
The government feels strongly that progress on trade, investment and energy cooperation will exhibit the strength of bilateral ties which for the last decade have been more Afghanistan and hence security related.
Thursday will also see Kerry meeting General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for the last time as the army chief, as Kayani is expected to step down in September with no indications that he would enjoy another term in office. Both Kayani and Kerry have had a difficult time because of strained bilateral relations, where Kerry was always the pointsman for Washington.