Monday, August 8, 2022

Tillerson arrives in Islamabad to discuss thorny issues


ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday arrived here to hold comprehensive talks with Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on thorny issues.

The visit comes on the heels of the US Secretary of State’s surprise visit to Kabul on Monday where he renewed US support for the war-torn country days after the Taliban launched a spate of attacks they described as a “message” to America.

He will meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, a Radio Pakistan report said.

AFP adds: During his brief trip to Bagram air base Monday, Tillerson told reporters Pakistan needs 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.

His visit to Islamabad, where he is meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the powerful military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, marks the first by a member of the administration.

US and Pakistani sources say he will be followed later in the year by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as Trump seeks to send a tough message to the wayward ally.

The US-Pakistan relationship has waxed and waned dramatically since Trump took office in January.

Pakistan said the President had praised its then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif as “terrific” in an effusive phone call when Trump took office in January.

But Trump’s blistering speech in August accusing Pakistan of harbouring militants saw Islamabad angrily hit back at the claims, insisting they discount the thousands of lives lost and billions spent in fighting extremism.

Following the speech, Tillerson cautioned Pakistan that it could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continued providing support to Afghan militant groups.


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