Pak FM embarks on three-day US visit

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif left for a three-day visit to United States on Tuesday.

Asif will meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resume bilateral talks and discuss ways to remove tensions that cropped up after President Donald Trump’s August 21 speech.

He will also reportedly meet US National Security Adviser Lt Gen HR McMaster during the trip.

The Minister will address a gathering at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington on US-Pakistan relations on October 5.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi last week and suggested sending a U.S. delegation to Islamabad for talks aimed at removing tensions.

Islamabad accepted the U.S. proposal but asked for a high-level meeting in Washington to defuse the tensions. Washington accepted the Pakistani argument and invited Asif for a meeting with Secretary Tillerson on Oct 4.

President Trump had blamed Pakistan for maintaining alleged safe havens for terrorists, threatened economic and military sanctions against Islamabad and announced a larger role for India in Afghanistan, ignoring Pakistan’s concerns.

Annoyed by the U.S. President’s speech, both opposition and ruling parties unanimously adopted a resolution in Pakistan Parliament, urging the government to reconsider its relations with the United States. Some opposition parties also asked the government to downgrade its ties with U.S. and further strengthen its strong relations with China.

Asif, during speech earlier this week at the Asia Society in New York, acknowledged that jihadi elements particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Saeed had become a liability for Pakistan.

Asif said that during the Afghan war (1979-89), the U.S. and its allies encouraged such elements from across the world to come to the region to fight the Soviet Union. Instead of staying in the region after the war to clear up the mess, they left abruptly, leaving Pakistan alone to deal with the extremists, he added. (ANI)