US Defence Secretary Mark Esper upcoming visit to Pakistan postponed: sources

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US Defence Secretary Mark Esper upcoming visit to Pakistan postponed: sources

*WASHINGTON: **US Defence Secretary Mark Esper upcoming visit to Pakistan postponed, sources have revealed.*

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper is postponing his upcoming trip to Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan in order to help manage the Department of Defence’s coronavirus response, a department spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the secretary of defence has decided to postpone his travel,” Department of Defense spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement, adding that the trip would occur at “a later date”.

He was expected to visit Pakistan later this month, as relations between Islamabad and Washington have seen significant improvement after former played a significant role in brokering the landmark US-Taliban deal last month.

The deal has envisaged a host of measures — including release of thousands of prisoners by both sides of the conflict, intra-Afghan dialogue and firm guarantees by the Taliban not to allow the Afghan soil to be used by terrorist groups.

Sources familiar with the development said that Afghanistan would have certainly dominated the discussions as the process entered a crucial phase following the signing of the deal.

Washington