WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis would be arriving in Pakistan on Monday as part of his five-day trip to the middle east, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The US official will hold crucial meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa for the discussion on regional security, peace, Afghan conflict and other bilateral issues.
Besides Pakistan, the defence chief would also be visiting Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait ‘to re-affirm the enduring U.S. commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia,’ the statement added.
Mattis’ first meeting would be with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Defense Minister Gen Sedki Sobhi today (Saturday).
He will then jet off to Jordan on Sunday, where King Abdullah II will host a conference comprising representatives from many countries in Africa and Europe on combating extremism in West Africa.
His final stop will be in Kuwait Tuesday, where he will meet with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.
Let it be known that on November 24, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had confirmed that US Defence Secretary James Mattis would conduct a one-day visit to the country.
The Trump administration official had earlier visited India in September after which the Pentagon said the United States viewed India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia.
The December tour of Mattis is pivotal in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s ‘harsh’ South-Asia policy announced in August that virtually accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists, despite Islamabad’s consistent denials.
Rex Tillerson’s Visit
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Pakistan during the last week of October and called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other high-ranking officials.
During the meeting, the premier had clarified that Pakistan had produced results and was looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship.
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.