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The Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz spoke today on “ Pakistan-U.S. relations: the way forward” at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC. Mr. Aziz was welcomed by Mr. Vali Nasr, Dean at SAIS and Mr. Walter Andersen, Director South Asia Program at SAIS.

Speaking to a large audience comprising a wide cross section of Washington DC’s think tank community, academia, U.S. officials, media representatives and Pakistani-American community, Mr. Aziz dealt in detail with the contours of Pakistan-U.S. bilateral ties. He expressed satisfaction on the fact that the relationship was back on a stable and positive trajectory. He said that this reflected the inherent resilience of the relationship and the mutual desire on both sides not to let transient irritants impact in any manner the core of the relationship that was rooted in the principles of friendship, cordiality and mutuality of trust and respect.

On the way forward, Mr. Aziz singled out the revived Strategic Dialogue process as the main platform designed to provide a structured framework to move towards a broad based, comprehensive and strategic partnership between the two countries.

On specific issues of bilateral cooperation, Mr. Aziz said that U.S. assistance in energy sector, especially on Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu Dams was a priority for the government. Enhanced market access for Pakistani exporters in the U.S. market was another area of immense interest. He expressed the confidence that there will be concrete forward movement on these areas in the days ahead.

Mr. Aziz said that, as always, cooperation in the defence and security sectors will remain an important plank of the bilateral ties. He specifically pointed out the unilateral U.S. drone strikes as an important issue for Pakistan that needed to be addressed.

In the regional context, Mr. Aziz said that cooperation and coordination on the developments in Afghanistan will continue as a significant aspect of the relationship. Mr. Aziz also expressed the hope that soon other areas of mutual interest like education, science and technology, and scientific research will also be added as areas of priority in the context of bilateral cooperation.

Mr. Aziz especially lauded the important role being played by the Pakistani diaspora in the U.S. in bringing the two countries and societies closer to each other. He reiterated the government’s commitment to facilitate all Pakistani expatriates including those living in the U.S. in every manner possible.

January 29, 2014

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