WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet foreign ministers from Pakistan and Afghanistan this week as part of a U.S. policy review in the volatile region, a State Department spokesman said on Monday.
Clinton will meet with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on Thursday. All three also will attend trilateral meetings and a dinner, spokesman Robert Wood said.
The meeting follows President Barack Obama’s decision last week to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to battle Taliban insurgents, bringing U.S. forces there to 55,000 by this summer.
Clinton already has appointed veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke as a special U.S. envoy to the region, where a resurgent Taliban has gained ground. Al Qaeda militants are believed to operate in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“She believes it’s an important opportunity to sit down and discuss these very serious issues, because you know how concerned she is, and other government officials are, about the situation on the ground in the region,” Wood said.
Holbrooke returned earlier this month from his first trip to the area since his appointment. The Obama administration is conducting a review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of many foreign policy evaluations underway by the month-old administration.
“We think it’s important that Pakistan and Afghanistan, the governments, feed into that review,” Wood said. “Their views obviously are very important. They will be taken into account.”
Afghan officials said they will push during the talks for help in development and reconstruction projects in addition to security measures.
Relations between Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been strained by U.S. concerns he has not done enough to fight corruption and Karzai’s protests over civilian casualties from foreign military operations.