US rules out strategic talks with Pakistan


US State Department has said there is no possibility of strategic talks with Pakistan. The issue of US diplomatic staff’s movement in Pakistan would be settled properly and reciprocity was an option to deal with such matters, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Thursday. He said US special envoy Mark Grossman’s tripartite dialogue and discussion with the Pakistani and Afghan leadership proved positive.
“Pakistan and the US have agreed to work jointly on important issues,” he said. He reiterated that there was no gap of communication between the two countries but as far as the strategic dialogue was concerned, “there is no possibility”. The US earlier warned the Pakistani government that its diplomats in the US could be hit with travel restrictions similar to those recently imposed on American diplomats in Pakistan unless Pakistan lifted the restrictions. The State Department said the US and Pakistan were working to end the spat, the latest irritant in the already strained bilateral ties, and it was confident the dispute would be resolved quickly.

But US officials said Pakistan had been told that the Obama administration would consider reciprocal steps to retaliate to the restrictions set down last month by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, if the restrictions were not rescinded. Toner declined to comment on the warning but said “reciprocity is always a consideration” when dealing with such matters. “We are working cooperatively with the government of Pakistan to resolve the issue,” Toner told reporters. “We’ve met with Pakistani officials on this matter both in Washington and in Islamabad, and we believe it can be resolved. The issue is the right of our diplomats to freely travel.” In a bid to reduce the tension, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has issued a 30-day no-objection certificate (NOC) to the diplomatic staff at the US embassy.
However, a permanent solution to the quagmire has still not been derived as Pakistan has conveyed to the Obama administration that the matter would stand settled permanently when detailed information of all CIA operatives in Pakistan was made available to Islamabad.
Before granting the NoC, US diplomats were supposed to apply for an NOC five days in advance of their intended travel to destinations outside Islamabad, including to the cities where the US has consulates.