US, Pakistan Hold More Talks on Easing Tensions

Posted August 3rd, 2011 at 4:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, has held further talks in Islamabad with Pakistani officials, aimed at easing diplomatic tensions between the two allies in the war against terrorism.

Grossman met Wednesday with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss a wide range of issues. But according to an official statement, the talks focused mainly on reconciliation efforts in neighboring Afghanistan.

It is not clear whether the two sides also discussed the issue of travel curbs on U.S. diplomats in Pakistan. Pakistani officials say there has been an extensive exchange of views on the topic in the formal talks, and that the two sides have agreed to resolve the dispute in a “friendly manner” to ensure that it will not undermine their joint anti-terror campaign.

The issue has further strained already tense relations that worsened after U.S. special forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in northern Pakistan May 2. Following the raid, Islamabad cut back on U.S. military trainers and tightened restrictions on CIA officials in the country.

The undetected presence of the fugitive al-Qaida chief in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad annoyed Washington and led to the suspension of about a third of the $2.7 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Grossman attended a fourth round of high-level talks in Islamabad among diplomats from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. He urged Pakistan to play a greater role in Afghanistan's peace process as foreign troops have begun the process of withdrawing from there after nearly 10 years of war. But he also stressed that all of Afghanistan's neighbors must play a part in supporting not only Afghan-led reconciliation, but the region's economic vision as well.