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U.S., Pakistan to Discuss Counterterrorism Cooperation in March

By Rachel Oswald

Global Security Newswire

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistani national security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz arrive at a ministerial-level meeting at the State Department in Washington on Monday. Diplomats from the two nations will meet in March to discuss new cooperation on countering terrorism. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistani national security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz arrive at a ministerial-level meeting at the State Department in Washington on Monday. Diplomats from the two nations will meet in March to discuss new cooperation on countering terrorism. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. and Pakistani diplomats will meet in March to discuss "additional joint steps" to counter terrorism, the two nations said in a joint statement.

The Monday release by the State Department followed the first ministerial-level meeting of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue since 2011, held in Washington.

The upcoming Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Working Group gathering, also in Washington, will address "counterterrorism cooperation and assistance, as well as additional joint steps to counter improvised explosive devices, disrupt terrorist financing, and improve border management," the two sides said.

At this week's meetings, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a Pakistani delegation, led by national security adviser to the prime minister, Sartaj Aziz.

In the written statement, Washington's top diplomat voiced assurance that Pakistan is devoted to ensuring the security of its nuclear arsenal.

"Secretary Kerry expressed confidence in Pakistan’s commitment and dedication to nuclear security and appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts to improve its strategic trade controls," reads the joint statement. "He also recognized that Pakistan is fully engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues."

Islamabad's ability to protect its expanding nuclear arms enterprise has been an ongoing concern for Washington amid fears that Pakistani-based militants might launch attacks on military bases that hold strategic materials.

"I think few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan," Kerry said in public remarks on Monday prior to the strategic dialogue. "It remains essential for the United States and Pakistan to continue to find avenues of cooperation on counterterrorism, on nuclear security."

The two governments are working to move past a 2012 breakdown in relations over U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. President Obama in October hosted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a White House meeting, where he also expressed confidence in Pakistani nuclear security.

"The resumption of this dialogue after a gap of three years symbolizes the inherent resilience and significance of this relationship," Aziz said.

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