US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has bluntly told Pakistan’s top leadership that it must increase efforts to eradicate terrorists operating within the country. Tillerson arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday evening 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 Pakistan’s 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 General 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.”
“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,” the release said.
During the meeting, Abbasi assured Tillerson that his country 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.
Earlier, Tillerson quietly landed at a military airport in Rawalpindi in the afternoon and was driven to US embassy where he was briefed by senior US officials about relations with Pakistan.
He later met Abbasi at the Prime Minister House and held detailed talks on various aspects of relations.
It was Tillerson’s first visit to the region after Trump unveiled his policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Trump’s remarks in August unruffled the ties already under strain due to various issues.
Wrapping up his Pak visit, Tillerson flew to India where he is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj.
(With inputs from Agencies)