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Top US official visits Pakistan to ease strained ties

ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be efforts to improve the strained ties between Pakistan and the United States, a senior US National Security Council official has been visiting the federal capital.

Senior director for South and Central Asia Lisa Curtis at the NSC of US held meetings with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua on Monday.

In a tweet, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said:  “FS [foreign secretary] meets Ms Lisa Curtis the Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the NSC of US, at MOFA this morning.”

There was no official statement disclosing further details of the meetings.

The visit comes at a time when the ties between two non-Nato allies remain strained since the announcement of the Trump administration’s strategy for South Asia and Afghanistan last year.

The extensive bilateral talks began afterwards to find a common ground, but the National Security Strategy document unveiled by the US, the Trump’s New Year tweet, the suspension of military aid and the US move to get Pakistan to the FATF grey list, left little doubt that the talks have failed to fix the strains.

Later, the military leadership of both countries engaged in the dialogue. In January, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa received two telephone calls from Commander US Central Command General Joseph Votel and one from a US Senator over the week to discuss Pak-US security cooperation post the President Trump tweet.

Washington last week persuaded member states of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan back on the “grey list” of nations with inadequate terrorist financing or money laundering controls.

Miftah Ismail, the adviser on finance, revenue and economic affairs to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, led Pakistan’s negotiations in Paris.

He said that Washington did not seem genuinely eager to see Pakistan boost its terrorist financing regulations and was instead bent on humiliating the country.

“If the Americans were interested in working with us and improving our CTF (counter-terrorist financing) regulations, they would have taken the offer I was making them,” Ismail said. “But their idea was just to embarrass Pakistan.”

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