Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is expected to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday during her current visit to UK. She reached London on Monday for a strategic dialogue and met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday. According to media reports, Khar will brief her counterparts on the recently concluded trilateral meeting between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and will be asking the British to influence US towards ending the drone strikes.
After meeting William Hague on Tuesday, Khar commented:
“We hope that for the goals that we share, the shared goals and objectives in the region, that of peace and stability within the region, within Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States will be able to foster our ties.”
On the other hand British Foreign Secretary stated that, “It is vital that further progress is made this year to consolidate the process of transition to Afghan security control, to agree a long term international commitment to Afghanistan beyond 2014, and to support Afghan-led efforts towards reconciliation and a lasting political settlement.”
“We will support any (peace efforts) that are Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven. This is our first and last pre-requisite,” Khar stated during a speech at renowned think tank in London, Chatham House.
“But we will not lead. We cannot lead. We will only follow what our Afghan brothers and sisters decide is the course of action they will adopt,” she added.
In an interview with the Guardian, Khar further stated,
“For us, the dangers of being supportive of something where there is not enough clarity on whether the Afghan government is fully behind it, fully owns it, fully drives it, are too high. The stakes are far too high.”
She added, “What we expect of Afghanistan and the Karzai government is that they share very clearly with the rest of the world and with us what it is they truly want to do. Yes, they want the path towards peace and reconciliation. They have already said that. But how do they plan to achieve it?”
Khar’s meeting with Hillary Clinton on Thursday is expected to improve the tense relations between US and Pakistan. Media sources have hinted that US Pakistan relations are expected to normalize by March. In this context, the trilateral conferences between Washington, Afghanistan and Pakistan are likely to resume. The talks between Khar and Clinton are likely to cover a whole array of issues, such as:
• Review of the US Pakistan relations
• Status of the Afghan reconciliation
• NATO’s Afghan supply routes that have remained suspended since the November Mohmand attack
• Iran-Pakistan relations and the gas pipeline project
• Passing of resolution on Balochistan in the US Congress.
Both Pakistan and American officials are tight lipped about the Khar-Clinton meeting. Responding to a question at the Department of State press briefing on Feb 21st, Victoria Nuland commented that she does not have anything on the upcoming bilateral meeting.