Clinton to meet Pakistani counterpart in London
By Karen DeYoung,
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to meet with her Pakistani counterpart in London this week in a sign that months of tension between their two governments may be easing.
The meeting, which U.S. officials said would take place on the sidelines of an international conference on Somalia on Thursday, is the first between Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar since 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a U.S. airstrike near the Afghanistan border in November.
The Obama administration has been noticeably quiet about Pakistan, which has said it is reviewing its relationship with the United States. Results of the review, being conducted by a special parliamentary committee, have been repeatedly delayed and are now not expected until after March 2 elections for the Pakistani Senate.
Pakistani officials have indicated that new guidelines would include a tax on supply convoys en route to the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan. Pakistani border posts have been closed to the convoys since the November incident, leaving hundreds of trucks and containers waiting.
In the meantime, the coalition has depended on stockpiled supplies and expensive alternative transit routes. Last week, Pakistan said it would temporarily allow perishable food to be shipped to troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has also said it would continue to oppose CIA drone strikes against alleged insurgents in its western tribal regions. But U.S. officials have suggested the possibility of a tacit agreement to allow a reduced number of strikes against high-value targets.
The drone strikes are perhaps the most politically difficult part of any reset in U.S.-Pakistan relations. The Pakistani government, which has long given tacit approval to the strikes and provided intelligence assistance, has consistently denied that stance in public and helped to fan the flames of domestic outrage.
Pakistan is also resentful of what it sees as administration attempts to bypass its participation in U.S. talks with the Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who shares that resentment, visited Pakistan last week and on Tuesday issued a statement calling on Pakistan to aid his own “direct negotiations” with the insurgents.
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