Pakistan-US strategic dialogue strengthened ties

Islamabad, March 1: Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz said the strategic dialogue with the US has further strengthened bilateral relations, the medi reported on Tuesday. Aziz made the comments along with US Secretary of State John Kerry after the sixth round of ministerial level Pakistan-US strategic dialogue in Washington on Monday, The Nation daily reported. At the start of the talks, Pakistan said that a contentious sale of F-16 fighter jets would strengthen the South Asian nation’s ability to mount counter-terrorist operations and promote regional stability. The US government this month approved the sale of the aircraft, radar and electronic warfare equipment to Pakistan in a deal worth nearly $700 million. However, the sale has been criticised by India and also by some US lawmakers. Aziz said he appreciated the US leadership’s public assessment that Pakistan uses F-16s effectively against terrorists. Kerry did not mention the F-16s sale in his remarks on Monday, but he commended Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations, including in North Waziristan, a tribal area from where militants have launched cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. The last strategic dialogue was held in Islamabad in January 2015. The strategic dialogue process started in 2010, but it was interrupted in 2011 when a US midnight raid in Abbottabad killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The process resumed in 2014.