‘Pakistan has an important role in the South Asia strategy’, US FM in Islamabad

SRINAGAR: Visiting American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his staff in Islamabad (Pakistan) that Pakistan has an incredibly important role in that South Asia strategy, a State Department spokesman said. He said Pakistan’s “security, the stability” was “very important to us.”

Tillerson made these comments at the US embassy before meeting Pakistan Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meeting Pakistan premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad on October 24, 2017. Photo US State Department

“We’ve come to the country to talk further with the leadership about President Trump’s South Asia strategy,” Tillerson was quoted saying. “And Pakistan has an incredibly important role in that South Asia strategy. The country is very important to us. The security, the stability of the country is very important to us. And many of the solutions to the regional challenges are – have to be found here as well in dealing with the leadership in Pakistan, and so we’re here to have further discussions about that.”

Tillerson  said he and his team are looking forward to having productive discussions. “We’re going to be very open, very frank about the challenges that we see, how we need to work together to address those challenges, certain things we really need for the Pakistan leadership to undertake, but we also want them to understand we’re here to work together as partners, and we should be working toward the same objective,” the spokesman quoted him saying. “I know everyone wants a peaceful, stable, secure Pakistan with great opportunity for economic growth. And we do see great opportunity for U.S.-Pakistan economic growth as well. And having a stable environment is really important to promoting the opportunities for U.S. businesses to come to Pakistan, invest, conduct business, and also to invite Pakistani businesses to invest in the United States.”

Later, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told teh US Secretary that they are committed to “war on terror” and it has already “produced results”.

Tillerson, on a tour of Asia and the Middle East, met with Abbasi, and Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “We are committed in the war against terror,” Abbasi is reported to have told Tillerson. “We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship.”

During the meeting, Tillerson, according to Friday Times,  asserted, “[Pakistan is] so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship”.

The newspaper quoted Abbasi saying: “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”.

The meeting was also attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG ISI Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir.

Tillerson met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Bagram Airbase after he landed in Afghanistan on a surprise visit, Monday. Tillerson’s unannounced visit follows one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 200 people killed in multiple attacks on security installations and mosques across the country.

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