WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Bilateral ties between Washington and Islamabad have the potential to deepen, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday in Washington.
Clinton delivered a message to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi ahead of national celebrations to mark the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan in 1956.
"On behalf of President (Barack) Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Pakistan as you mark your National Day on March 23rd," said Clinton.
Her message comes as Washington prepares to host top Pakistani officials Friday for what Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said would be a broad-based discussion.
Washington has linked Pakistani stability to its revised war plan in Afghanistan. Pakistani military forces have clashed with Taliban and al-Qaida-backed militants for years. The top leaders of al-Qaida, Osama bin laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding in the mountainous north of Pakistan.
Clinton said bilateral ties with Islamabad were centered on democracy, economic develop and the share fight against extremists.
"Our broad partnership is based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and (the Friday) dialogue will be an opportunity to forge even closer ties between our nations," she said.