WASHINGTON – US Defence Secretary James Mattis has confirmed that the US military chief Joseph Dunford will also accompany the Secretary of state on his Pakistan tour and the need to fight terrorists would be “the primary part” of their discussions.
At a Tuesday briefing at the Pentagon, Mr Mattis said the secretary of state and the chairman are going to Islamabad to meet with the new government that’s in place.
In their talks with Pakistani officials, the delegation will “make very clear what we have to do, all of our nations, in meeting our common foe, the terrorists, revealed Mattis.
At the Pentagon briefing, Secretary Mattis did not comment when a journalist asked if he trusted the new Pakistani leadership’s commitment to fight terrorism.
He also refuted suggestions that private military forces could join the war in Afghanistan, possibly replacing regular US troops.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford, who also attended the briefing, detailed that the US had ‘permanent interests in South Asia’ and wanted to “maintain a presence (there) to have influence in that region”.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Gen Dunford are expected in Islamabad in the first week of September for talks with their counterparts.
Gen Dunford’s inclusion in the delegation dispels the impression that the Islamabad tour was not a proper visit but just a stopover, as US state and defence secretaries were both going to be in New Delhi next week.
The top US delegation is expected to arrive in Pakistan on September 5. They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.