Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Pakistan army chief begins US strategic dialogue

US Army Gen David Petraeus and Pakistani Gen Ashfaq Kayani
The US wants to strengthen its ties with Pakistan

Pakistan's army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani has met US defence leaders in Washington as the two countries begin a week-long strategic dialogue.

He held talks with Defence Secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to meet Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday.

The US wants to strengthen its ties with Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Gen Kayani's meetings with Mr Gates and Adm Mullen "focused primarily on bilateral defence issues, but it was part of the larger US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The talks aim "to build upon efforts begun last year to broaden the relationship and deepen the co-operation between our two nations", the statement added.

Earlier Gen Kayani met the head of US Central Command General David Petraeus.

The two "discussed ways to advance co-operation and collaboration in countering extremist violence in Afghanistan, as well as US support for Pakistan's struggle against violent extremists at home", the Central Command said.

US officials said the talks between Ms Clinton and Mr Qureshi would also cover economic development, energy, education, communication and agriculture.

Reports say the two sides may discuss a possible civilian nuclear deal.

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