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Clinton, Pakistani Foreign Minister to Meet in Washington Next Week

Wondering what exactly is up with the Pakistanis capturing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy commander of the Afghan Taliban? Perhaps the beginnings of clarity will come next week, when a high-level Pakistani delegation comes to town for the first foreign minister-to-foreign minister dialogue. This has been all over the Indian and Pakistani press since the weekend, but State just sent out a release confirming it:

On March 24, the United States and Pakistan will hold their first Strategic Dialogue at the Ministerial level in Washington, DC. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will co-chair the talks. Topics for discussion will include economic development, water and energy, education, communications and public diplomacy, agriculture, and security. High-level officials from both governments will come to the table to discuss issues of common concern and shared responsibility.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have repeatedly stressed the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, a partnership that goes far beyond security. The Strategic Dialogue represents the shared commitment of both nations to a strengthening the bilateral relationship and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.

I’m reliably informed that Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the chief of staff of the Pakistani Army, will join Foreign Minister Qureshi, but don’t have more on that at the moment. The Obama administration wants a broader and deeper relationship with the Pakistanis than just one focusing on terrorism issues, despite the feeble efforts of callow bloggers like myself to write posts reorienting the meeting around Baradar when it will obviously cover much much more than that. Still, maybe the administration will emerge from the talks with a better sense of what the Pakistanis’ strategic intent behind the capture was.

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