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U.S., Pakistan Opening Next Round Of 'Strategic Dialogue' Talks

The talks will be led by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The United States and Pakistan are due today to open the next round of their high-level "strategic dialogue" talks aimed at strengthening their partnership against Islamic extremism.

The three days of talks in Washington will be led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and are expected to also involve Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The talks will the third round in a series which began earlier this year following the U.S. Congress's approval last year of a $7.5 billion civilian-aid package aimed at developing schools, infrastructure, and democratic institutions in Pakistan as a means of reducing the appeal of Islamic extremists.

The talks come amid fresh strains in the relationship between Islamabad and Washington over U.S. military incursions into Pakistan from across the border in Afghanistan, and allegations that Pakistani intelligence and security forces are not doing enough to target Taliban and other militants.

A recent report quoting an unnamed NATO official suggested that Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda deputy are living in relative comfort in northwest Pakistan

compiled from agency reports