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Pakistan, U.S. Opening Talks On 'Strategic' Partnership


Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will lead the talks for the Pakistani side, along with a Pakistani army general.
Visiting top Pakistani officials and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are due to open two days of talks aimed at strengthening what officials are calling a "strategic" partnership between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani will lead the Pakistani side in the talks with Clinton and other U.S. officials.

The talks are expected to focus on security cooperation -- including Pakistani requests for pilotless drone aircraft and helicopters -- to help in the battle Islamic militants based along the Afghan border. Efforts to deepen U.S.-Pakistani trade cooperation and promote Pakistani infrastructure growth and economic development are also expected to be discussed.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the talks are taking place at the U.S. State Department because they are aimed at strengthening a "long-term strategic" partnership between the two countries.

"I would not look to this at the end of it, for there to be some great announcement about any hard items that are being produced as a result of the conversations," Morrell said. "This is a dialogue designed to produce a better, long term strategic relationship between our two counties. This is not simply about asking and receiving items. Obviously there are things that we both need to work on to further this relationship and I think there's a clear desire to proceed down that road."

Pakistani officials have also said they are pursuing a potential civilian nuclear cooperation deal with the United States -- similar to the nuclear deal between Washington and Pakistan's neighboring rival, India.

The United States, which has previously expressed concern about Pakistan's record of transferring nuclear technology to Libya and North Korea, has declined so far to offer any formal support for such a nuclear deal with Pakistan.

compiled from agency reports