WASHINGTON – Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed a delegation from Pakistan to Washington Monday to resume strategic dialogue between the two nations, calling the talks “the latest indication of our common commitment to escalating shared prosperity.”

At the initial brunch meeting at the State Department, Kerry highlighted the need for continued U.S. investment in Pakistan in energy, education, infrastructure, and women’s economic opportunities. He said Pakistan was an area of special interest to him.

Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, who is leading the delegation of Pakistani officials, praised Kerry’s efforts in renewing diplomatic relations.

“The resumption of this dialogue after a few years symbolizes the inherit resilience and significance of this relationship,” Aziz said.

For several years, Pakistan-U.S. relations have been increasingly contentious. The U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad caused a furor over perceived American encroachment on Pakistan’s sovereignty, a perception furthered by the continued use of drone strikes on Pakistani soil. Meanwhile, voices in Washington questioned Pakistan’s commitment to combating terrorism.

But new faces at the table have brought fresh optimism and a renewed commitment to the partnership. Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister in May 2013 in Pakistan’s first successful democratic transition of power. In August, Kerry made his first visit as secretary of state to meet with Sharif in Islamabad; Sharif visited the White House in October.

“We all know there’ve been occasional hiccups and challenges, but we really believe that there are fundamental interests that we need to unite around,” Kerry said Monday.

The strategic dialogue marked the first high-level gathering between the two countries since October. The agenda for the day includes defense, economic growth and finance, energy and counterterrorism.

In his opening statement, Aziz said he spent time contemplating “the real meaning of this strategic partnership” between the two nations. He expressed hope that the U.S. would not view Pakistan solely as a resource to monitor Afghanistan and combat terrorism, but as a valued partner and ally.

“The most important prerequisite for a strategic partnership, in my view, is mutual trust at all levels and among all key institutions,” Aziz said. “Once this trust is restored, then any unexpected incident or accident or disagreement on a policy or a tactic will not be able to derail the relationship, as happened in 2011 and 2012.”