Obama to visit Pakistan next year

10:29, October 21, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday told a Pakistani delegation that he will not visit their country next month during his Asian tour, but committed himself to visiting Pakistan in 2011.

Obama also welcomed Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington for a visit, the White House said.

The United States and Pakistan began on Wednesday in Washington a three-day strategic dialogue, the third of its kind this year, which covers a wide range of issues, with focus on security, economic, defense, energy and counterterrorism.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmod Qureshi are co-chairing the dialogue, involving U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and Pakistan's army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal.

In a meeting with the Pakistani delegation, Obama underlined the importance of the strategic dialogue in moving bilateral relations toward "a true partnership" based on mutual respect and common interests.

"The president and the Pakistani delegation agreed on the need for regional stability, and specifically on the importance of cooperating toward a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan," the White House said.

Relations between the two countries are sometimes marred by U.S. complaints that Pakistan is not doing enough to crack down on the Taliban fighters within its territory.

Pakistan has expressed its frustrations on the slow pace of economic aid and U.S. lack of sympathy for its confrontation with India. The country is particularly angered by the recent accidental killing of three Pakistani soldiers by a NATO helicopter gunship, which led to the shut-down of a NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

Obama's planned Asian tour next month will take him to India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Japan.



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