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US takes up Pakistan military wish-list

The United States said Tuesday it was in talks with Pakistan about new military assistance as part of a partnership against extremism, in a step sure to trigger unease in India.

US takes up Pakistan militaryThe United States and Pakistan on Wednesday open their latest “strategic dialogue,” an initiative by President Barack Obama’s administration to show Pakistan’s skeptical public it is ready to take up its concerns.

Frank Ruggiero, the US deputy special representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the Pentagon and the Pakistani military have been talking about a framework for security assistance.

“We specifically worked with the Pakistanis over the summer to identify what would be the types of military equipment and so on,” Ruggiero told reporters.

“That will be a topic of discussion at the strategic dialogue.” The US Congress last year approved a five-year, 7.5 billion-dollar package for Pakistan aimed at building schools, infrastructure and democratic institutions in hopes of denting the appeal of extremists.

Pakistan’s powerful military initially voiced misgivings, saying the aid came with too many conditions.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March promised to work on a “multi-year security assistance package.”

Ruggiero said the United States considered its ties with India and Pakistan to be “distinct bilateral relationships.”

“The United States committed to a strategic dialogue with the government of Pakistan, a strategic partnership, and we also have a strategic relationship with the government of India,” he said.

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