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Clinton To Meet Pakistani Foreign Minister


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Pakistani counterpart at a time of tense relations between Islamabad and Washington. (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Pakistani counterpart at a time of tense relations between Islamabad and Washington. (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to hold talks today in London with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

The meeting comes with bilateral relations strained since U.S. forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border in November.

In response, Pakistan closed key NATO supply routes into Afghanistan.

For its part, Washington has questioned Islamabad's resolve to fight extremism after U.S. forces killed former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani compound last spring. Washington has since slashed military aid to Pakistan.

A classified NATO report leaked earlier this month said Pakistan's secret services are assisting the Taliban in carrying out attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, says relations between Washington and Islamabad are "burdened by too many expectations" and have become overly emotional.

Rehman, the former information minister and human rights campaigner, suggested that the review and the low point following the border deaths offered a chance to improve U.S.-Pakistani cooperation.

"The good news is that many of us on both sides think it is time that this relationship matured into a more consistent, stable, and transparent equation with weight given to more respect. But once again, that would be a subject best reserved right now for our parliament to decide," Rehman said recently at the U.S. Institute of Peace in her first address in Washington.

Rehman said better communication and more consistent messages from public officials is needed on both sides.

Analysts say bilateral ties have been further complicated after a U.S. congressman recently proposed a nonbinding resolution on Pakistan's Baluchistan Province, where separatists have been waging an insurgency against the government for decades.

The resolution by Dana Rohrabacher -- a Republican from California -- states that the Baluch people -- who live in parts of Iran and Afghanistan as well as Baluchistan -- "have the right to self determination and to their own sovereign country."

The Obama administration rejected the proposed resolution, and explained it did not control the actions of congressmen.

Not satisfied, the Pakistani government summoned the deputy U.S. ambassador and claimed the resolution violated "the United Nations charter, international law, and recognized norms of interstate conduct."

All this comes as Pakistan's parliament is expected to vote in March on a new set of guidelines for bilateral relations that analysts say could pave the way for repairing relations between Islamabad and Washington.
With Reuters and AP reporting
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