Los Angeles 10/20/2010 3:06:18 PM
News / Politics

U.S. Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Faces Difficult Challenges

Pakistani and US officials begin their third round of talks on Wednesday to broaden ties beyond the fight against Islamist militants, but analysts are expecting little progress because of conflicting strategic interests. 

Officials are due to talk about everything from energy to water, but the three-day strategic talks are likely to be dominated by the ongoing military campaign in the Af-Pak region and its effects on bilateral ties. 

"Pakistani-U.S. relations have taken a hit in the past few weeks", stated Mark Quarterman, an advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's actually very timely that the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue is occurring after this period so they can sit down and clear the air".

Officials divided into 13 groups, including water, energy, law enforcement and agriculture, will hold meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet on Friday to wrap up the dialogue with a plenary discussion. 

Major issues to be discussed include US military aid for Pakistan and floods that affected an area size of Italy in August, causing an estimated 9.7 billion dollars in damage to Pakistan's infrastructure.

"The talks are important to Pakistan because they provide a way to broaden the discussion beyond just counterterrorism and to talk about things that are important to Pakistan: energy cooperation, trade, agriculture, a whole host of issues", stated Lisa Curtis, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

However, the dialogue is likely to be overshadowed by the war in Afghanistan.