Tillerson talks tough, tells Pak to eradicate terrorists operating from its soil

Tillerson talks tough, tells Pak to eradicate terrorists operating from its soil
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday bluntly told Pakistan's top leadership that it must increase efforts to eradicate terrorists operating within the country.

Tillerson arrived here on a whirlwind visit to reset bilateral ties strained after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorist groups.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Tillerson discussed the bilateral cooperation and partnership, expanding economic ties between the US and Pakistan, and Pakistans critical role in the region.

Abbasi chaired an inter-agency meeting attended by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Defence Khurram Dastigir Khan, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and other officials.

The US embassy here said that the secretary reiterated President Trump's message that "Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country."

To address those concerns, the secretary outlined the US's new South Asia Strategy and the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the US and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that can bring stability and security to the region, the embassy statement said.

"The secretary noted that Pakistan and the United States share common interests in establishing a stable, peaceful Afghanistan, defeating ISIS in South Asia, and eliminating terrorist groups that threaten both Pakistan and the United States."

During the meeting, Abbasi assured Tillerson that Pakistan is committed to the war against terrorism.

"The US can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today, Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror," Abbasi said.

Abbasi informed the visiting delegation of the significant strides Pakistan had made in improving the overall security and economic environment of the country, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

Kashmir issue

The US delegation was informed that progress in promoting peace and stability in the region was linked to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, it said.

Defence Minister Khan told Geo TV that all aspects of relations were discussed and there was an agreement to increase cooperation to defeat militancy.

Khan said that Pakistan also highlighted the issue of Indian presence in Afghanistan and raised concerns about New Delhi's role in security affairs in the war-torn country.

"We said that we do not have any issue with Indian development work in Afghanistan but we have issued with its security role," he said.

He said the US official tried to "tell us that India is not a threat to Pakistan but our perception was different".

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