ISLAMABAD - US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will land in Islamabad tomorrow on a landmark visit in Pakistan US bilateral ties.
He will meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa for talks on bilateral cooperation between the two countries and to seek Pakistan’s help for American efforts to reach a peaceful solution in war-torn Afghanistan. Tillerson will also discuss Pak-US ties, Pakistan’s critical role in the success of South Asia strategy of the US and the expanding economic ties between the two countries.
“The Secretary will meet with senior Pakistani leaders to discuss our continued bilateral cooperation, Pakistan’s critical role in the success of our South Asia strategy, and the expanding economic ties between our two countries,” a State Department spokesperson had said.
She had said that the secretary was due to meet with the prime minister, foreign minister and senior military officials to discuss joint efforts between Pakistan and the United States to fight terrorist groups that threaten regional peace and stability and how “Pakistan can support our effort to reach a peaceful solution in Afghanistan”.
After his visit to Islamabad, Tillerson will travel to New Delhi as part of his Asia visit. Tillerson began his visit from Oct 20 from Saudi Arabia where he took part in the inaugural Coordination Council meeting between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Secretary Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad follows the visit by Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to Washington earlier this month during which he met high US officials to discuss the US-Pakistan relations and the new South Asia strategy announced by President Trump in August this year.
After his US visit, Khawaja Asif in a televised interview said that Pakistan had offered the United States a joint operation against terrorists on its soil. However, he later clarified that he never said Pakistan could allow foreign boots on the ground.
Earlier this month, Pakistan and the US made a breakthrough in bilateral cooperation with the resumption of official dialogue over future strategy on Afghanistan and rest of the issues in the South Asia region.
“Both the sides reviewed the state of play in the bilateral relationship in wake of the US strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia and agreed to continue discussions on all matters of mutual interest,” said an official communiqué following talks between an interagency US delegation led by White House National Security Council official Lisa Curtis and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
The delegation also held a meeting with COAS Bajwa and briefed him on the contours of US strategy in South Asia, notably the regional security situation, including Afghanistan, and how Pakistan has positively contributed towards peace and stability in the region.
In September, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and US Vice President Mike Pence met on the margins of the UN General Assembly where the two leaders resolved to stay engaged and carry forward bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Abbasi also met with US President Donald Trump at a reception and had a discussion with him on Afghanistan. The US president expressed a positive attitude about the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan and also spoke positively about the continuation of the US-Pakistan partnership.
Dialogue froze between Washington and Islamabad soon after an outburst by US President Donald Trump on the eve of the announcement of his policy on South Asia and Afghanistan.
After scathing criticism from the American president, Islamabad had postponed planned bilateral interactions with Washington.
Not only Pakistan had recorded its protest over Trump’s remarks, all the official communication had been put on a halt till the review of the country’s relations with the US.