Kerry Sets Stage for Pakistan Reset

Visit Will Provide Chance to Recast Relationship With Less Engagement, Rancor

By Saeed Shah with contribution from Khalid Khattak 
Published on July 30 on The Wall Street Journal 

ISLAMABAD—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Pakistan this week in his first visit since the country’s new government came to power, in what officials cautiously characterized as warming in one of the U.S.’s thorniest foreign relationships

Mr. Kerry’s trip, the highest-level engagement between Washington and Islamabad since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s election in May, comes as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat troops from neighboring Afghanistan. It provides an opportunity, U.S. and Pakistani officials said, to recast a relationship that in the past decade has been defined by massive U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Washington’s global antiterror campaign. The U.S. withdrawal, these officials say, will set the stage for a relationship with reduced engagement but also less rancor.

“Now that you are leaving Afghanistan, let’s prepare the foundations of a new relationship that goes beyond Afghanistan,” Sartaj Aziz, Mr. Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs and Pakistan’s de facto foreign minister, said in a recent interview.

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