WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday she expected intense sessions when the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan come to Washington for three-nation talks next week.
President Barack Obama is due to meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday and Thursday, the second in a series of planned trilateral meetings aimed at improving coordination and strategy to stabilize both countries.
Clinton, who did not offer specifics, said the meetings were useful to change mindsets and put forward what Washington wanted both sides to do.
The last meeting was in February when Clinton announced the two had agreed to hold regular three-nation talks on strategy in their war in South Asia.
We'll have some very intense sessions on the specifics of what we're trying to accomplish, Clinton said of next week's meetings.
The Obama administration wants Pakistan to do more to fight home-grown militants that pose a threat to neighboring Afghanistan, where the United States along with allies is trying to rout the Taliban.
Pakistan's army this week sought to evict Taliban fighters from a strategic valley northwest of the capital Islamabad, a military move the Obama administration has welcomed after weeks of criticism that Islamabad is not doing enough.
In Pakistan, it's a very difficult environment because of the confusion among the civilian and military leadership about how to prioritize what is the greatest threat to Pakistan going forward, said Clinton.
Obama said in his news conference this week that nuclear-armed Pakistan had finally begun to realize that militants inside the country posed a bigger threat to the Muslim nation's stability than India, despite three wars between the two rivals.
In Afghanistan, violence is already at its highest levels since the Taliban were driven from power in late 2001. Insurgent attacks in the first three months of this year were 73 percent higher than the same period a year ago, NATO statistics show.