ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday reconfirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the “war on terror” during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying his country had “produced results” fighting the region’s militants.
The statement by the US secretary of state was made during a meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other high-ranking Pakistani officials during Tillerson’s tour to South Asia and the Gulf region.
Tillerson, on a tour of Asia and the Middle East, arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon and met with Abbasi, as well as Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“We are committed in the war against terror,” Abbasi told Tillerson, as the two men sat facing each other on a long table.
“We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship,” added Abbasi, who sat next to Bajwa.
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During a short part of the meeting available to media, Tillerson told the Pakistani delegation that the nuclear-armed nation was an important US ally in the region.
Relations between uneasy allies US and Pakistan have frayed in recent years, with Washington accusing Islamabad of turning a blind eye or helping Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies the allegations.
After the meeting, Tillerson left for the next leg of his trip and would be visiting India.
The meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG ISI Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir.
Earlier on Tuesday, the United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached Islamabad as part of his tour to South Asia and the Gulf region.
According to a statement by the US State Department on October 19, Tillerson would inform the Pakistani authorities that “action against terrorist outfits in country essential for good bilateral relations”.
During his visit, he will hold meeting Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The talks would cover Pak-US relation, Afghan issue and regional security.
The visit apparently aimed at restructuring relations between the two countries which went deteriorated after US President Donald Trump announced his policy on South Asia, alleging Pakistan of providing safe heavens to terrorist groups.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif paid visit to Washington to held bilateral talks where he not only met his counterpart – Mr. Tillerson – but also held talks with National Security Adviser Gen H.R. McMaster.
Both countries had agreed to resolve the issues through negotiations when Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session.
On Monday, Tillerson met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Bagram Airbase after he landed in Afghanistan on a surprise visit.
Addressing the media there, Tillerson said he will pressure Islamabad to take action on the support Taliban and other “terrorist organisations” receive in the country.
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 23, 2017
Islamabad needed to “take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organisations that find safe haven inside” the country, he told reporters in Kabul.
“We want to work closely (with) Pakistan to create a more stable and secure Pakistan as well,” Tillerson said.
“Clearly, we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory,” Tillerson said, adding that the US wanted to work with regional allies to ensure stability.
“This is very much a regional effort as you saw. It was rolled out in the strategy itself, demanding that others deny safe haven to terrorists anywhere in the region. We are working closely with Pakistan as well.”
“It will be based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward for both creating opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan but also ensuring a stable future Pakistan,” he said.
This was Tillerson’s first trip to Afghanistan as secretary of state and comes several weeks after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also paid an unannounced visit.
Tillerson’s unannounced visit follows one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 200 people killed in multiple attacks on security installations and mosques across the country.
He has earlier visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of his regional tour.
After Pakistan, the US secretary of state will head to New Delhi and then Switzerland.