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US concerned over future government in Pak: Tillerson

October 05, 2017 00:25 IST

The United States is concerned about the future of the government in Pakistan and wants to ensure long-term stability in the country, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday he sought to allay Pakistan's concerns over President Donald Trump's new South Asia policy.

Tillerson's comments came after his meeting with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who is visiting the US as part of efforts to rebuild bilateral ties frayed after President Trump accused Islamabad of sheltering terror groups.

 

Asif, during the meeting with Tillerson at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, defended his country's role in the war against terrorism.

They held a wide-ranging exchange of views on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest, a statement by Pakistan's Embassy said.

Wednesday's meeting signalled a gradual resumption of talks between the two countries that was paused by an upset Pakistan after Trump announced his new South Asia and Afghan policy.

Tillerson after the meeting told reporters that the US was concerned over the future of the government in Pakistan.

Tillerson said that he believed that the US has a partner in Pakistan.

Responding to a question, Tillerson said the US' relationship with is 'extraordinarily' important regionally.

The South Asia strategy rolled out by President Trump, he observed, was in a regional context, and not just about Afghanistan.

"This is about the importance of Pakistan, and Pakistan’s long-term stability as well. We have concerns about the future of Pakistan’s government too...we want their government to be stable. We want it to be peaceful," Tillerson said.

"Many of the issues they’re struggling with inside Pakistan are American issues," he said without elaborating further.

The statement issued by Pakistan's Embassy said Asif said that the US and Pakistan shared a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large.

He told Tillerson that Pakistan is winning its war against terrorism.

He also informed the Secretary of State about the strong public reaction in Pakistan to the pronouncement of the US administration's South Asia Policy -- based on inadequate recognition of Pakistan's sterling contribution in the fight against terrorism, the statement said.

'Secretary Tillerson acknowledged and appreciated the sacrifices rendered by the people and armed forces of Pakistan in the struggle against terrorism. He agreed that cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in Afghanistan was crucial to achieving durable peace and stability in the region,' the statement said.

'He remarked that Pakistan's interests and concerns will be accommodated since its role was critical to President Trump's South Asia Strategy. He added that future stability of Pakistan was an important element of the strategy,' it added.

He also raised the issue of Kashmir during the meeting.

IMAGE: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, meets with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif at the State Department in Washington on Wednesday. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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