With Pakistani Visit To The U.S., A Chance To Ease Tensions

"As the Obama administration begins three days of talks with Pakistani leaders, the two sides will seek to ease tensions over the muscular new U.S. strategy in the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the Pakistani army, are leading the their nation's delegation for meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cameron Munter, the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, also will join the talks.

The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which started Wednesday, will address all facets of the relationship between Washington and Islamabad, but counterterrorism cooperation will be a major aspect of the talks.

During the talks the Obama administration is expected to announce a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN. The two sides also will discuss how to help Pakistan rebuild after this summer's devastating floods.

The talks come amid renewed friction between the U.S. and Pakistan after a NATO helicopter gunship in pursuit of insurgents killed Pakistani soldiers in a border region with Afghanistan, prompting Pakistan to temporarily close a supply route into Afghanistan.

It also comes on the heels of a White House report sent to Congress earlier this month that uses unusually tough language to suggest the ally is not doing nearly enough to confront the Taliban and al Qaeda, despite repeated Obama administration claims in public that Pakistan is working hard to crack down on militants

The White House assessment, obtained by CNN, is particularly tough on Pakistan's inability to make gains in North Waziristan, where many analysts believe key al Qaeda leaders have gained a safe haven to use as a base to
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