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Pak focuses on N-deal, India as strategic talks with US begins

world Updated: Mar 24, 2010 23:00 IST

US and Pakistan on Wednesday opened their first strategic dialogue with both sides talking about cooperation in the field of energy, an apparent reference to a nuclear deal that Islamabad is seeking from Washington on the lines of the Indo-US atomic pact.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also harped on the Kashmir issue asking the US to "constructively engage" in the process of its peaceful resolution with India.

In his opening remarks at the strategic dialogue, the first of its kind at the level of Foreign Ministers, Qureshi sought "non-discriminatory" access to vital energy resources.

"We hope non-discriminatory access to vital energy resources will also be made available to us, so that we too can pursue our economic and industrial development plans," Qureshi, who is leading the Pakistani delegation that also includes Army Chief Kayani, said.

In her remarks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the would help Pakistan in all issues, including meeting "urgent energy needs."

Pakistan has been demanding a nuclear deal with the US similar to the one Washington has with India. But, the US has been taking the demand coolly due to proliferation concerns.

However, in the run up to the talks, the US has been indicating that it would consider the demand for a nuclear cooperation.

Bringing the issue of Kashmir, Qureshi said "Pakistan will continue to seek a peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes in South Asia including Kashmir. We hope the United States will maintain its constructive engagement to encourage this process."

The Pakistani Foreign Minister pledged support for action against extremism but also said that Pakistan had key wishes from the United States.

"Pakistan is committed to doing its part to facilitate the world community's effort for peace and stability in Afghanistan. We hope the world community will be equally responsive to our legitimate concerns and help advance common interests," he said.

Clinton said she wanted to speak directly to the people of Pakistan and acknowledged that the two nations "have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past."

"There are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or, frankly, any family members... But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan," Clinton, who was seen effusively clapping at the end of Qureshi's remarks, said.