US Defense Secretary to visit Pakistan

Islamabad: US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will visit Pakistan for talks on bilateral and regional matters, Pakistan Foreign Ministry has said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal did not give any specific date for the visit. However, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said last week that the visit is expected on December 3.

Faisal said at his weekly briefing in Islamabad on Thursday that Mattis’ visit will be part of the continued interaction between the two countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

“This clearly indicates that dialogue between both the countries to bridge gap in perceptions is ongoing. We are trying to find common grounds and move forward in our bilateral relationship with the US in a positive and cooperative manner,” he said.

Regarding the US policy on South Asia announced in August by US President Donald Trump, the spokesman said “there was a difference in understanding and perceptions on both sides”.

He added that thereafter, a dialogue started by a meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this year.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif also met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington. Tillerson later visited Pakistan in October.