FM arrives in Washington for strategic dialogue
WASHINGTON, March 21 (APP): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi flew into Washington Saturday evening for a five-day visit during which he will co-chair US-Pakistan strategic dialogue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as Islamabad seeks greater American cooperation for development in wide-ranging areas. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani and State Department officials welcomed the foreign minister.During his stay in Washington, the foreign minister will also meet with some key American lawmakers and interact with the media and members of Pakistani-American community.
He will also attend events marking Pakistan Day at the country’s embassy.
On the Capitol Hill, Qureshi will meet with members of influential congressional panels including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee and apprise them of the strides Islamabad has made in its ongoing anti-militancy endeavors, officials said.
He will also highlight the sacrifices and economic cost that Pakistanis have paid in the fight against terrorism in the region, where US has is hoping for a successful outcome of its Afghan mission. 
Pakistani and American officials have said cooperation in areas including economy, security, education, science and technology and energy will be among the major subjects at the March 24 strategic dialogue.
Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and senior officials including advisers and secretaries of various ministeries will form the Pakistani delegation at the discussion.
The US side will include Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman Joint Chiefs Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and senior officials from a host of relevant departments.
The US-Pakistan strategic dialogue will be the first under the Obama administration and takes place in the backdrop of some vigorous and successful Pakistani anti-militant actions.
Over the past one year, Pakistan has cleared Swat valley of Taliban militants, launched an effective operation in South Waziristan while cooperative efforts along the Afghan border have seen elimination of some top al-Qaeda operatives and the militant organization weakened.
Pakistn has also earned appreciation in Washington for a string of arrests of senior Afghan Taliban militants.
Meanwhile, Defense officials will have meetings with their US counterparts on security cooperation.
Richard Holbrooke, US special representative for the region, indicated at a special briefing this week that the US would enhance its cooperation with Pakistan to help the key South Asian ally deal with economic development and energy-related requirements. He says the strategic dialogue will mark “major intensification” in the US-Pakistan partnership.
According to US ambassador in Islamabad Anne Paterson President Barack Obama’s administration is keen to have a “new relationship” with Pakistan that would be “much broader onthan security” and aid. The Pakistan-US ties are “getting better” and “fairly significant changes” are in the offing shortly, she said in an interview.
Islamabad says it is fighting terror in its own interest but has also made a number of successful efforts towards curbing violent extremism and getting rid of terror operatives that posed threat to regional and world security. Pakistani officials expects Washington to reciprocate the country’s critical efforts with long-term tangible partnership in economic, trade, energy and security areas.