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Ashton, Pillay head to Pakistan

June 4, 2012 at 1:35 PM

BRUSSELS, June 4 (UPI) -- A strategic dialogue with Pakistan is a chance to strengthen bilateral relations with Pakistan while taking on the threat of terrorism, an EU official said.

Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the European Commission, announced plans this week to visit Islamabad for a strategic dialogue session.

"We want to deepen our collaboration in many areas, including judicial reform, strengthening the democratic institutions but also work jointly on promoting regional stability and tackling extremism and terrorism," she said in a statement.

Both sides in January agreed on a five-year plan that included counter-terrorism issues and the possibility for a free trade agreement.

Pakistani ties with Western allies are strained over the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced plans to set off on a four-day mission to Pakistan at the invitation of the government.

It's her first visit to the country since taking on her role in 2008. It was unclear if Pillay's visit was coordinated with Ashton's.

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