Pakistani, US officials agree on engagements at all levels

Pakistani, US officials agree on engagements at all levels
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Islamabad: Pakistani and visiting US officials held talks here on Thursday and agreed to “continue bilateral engagements at all levels”, an official said.

The inter-agency US delegation included Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Council senior Director for South Asia, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense David Helvey. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani side, according to a Foreign Office statement.

“The two sides reviewed the state of play in the relationship in wake of the US strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia and agreed to continue discussions on all matters of mutual interest,” the statement said.

Reiterating Pakistan’s stance for a politically negotiated settlement owned and led by the Afghans, the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s constructive participation in all regional and bilateral mechanisms aimed at pursuing a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.

The US delegation was also informed on the recent visit by Pakistani officials to Kabul with a view to intensifying engagement and addressing mutual concerns particularly border management and repatriation of refugees.

Highlighting Pakistan’s ongoing law enforcement and counter-terrorism campaign, the Foreign Secretary apprised the US delegation of Pakistan’s efforts in eliminating terrorism from the Pakistani soil. Pakistan’s concerns on continued attacks from across the border were also shared, the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

“Noting that the US had a long track record of cooperation with Pakistan, the US delegation emphasized the importance of reinvigorating the bilateral relationship in order to achieve the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” the statement said.

The US delegation was informed about the “human rights violations being committed by the Indian forces” in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in hundreds of casualties, the Foreign Ministry said.

“It was noted that persistent Indian refusal to engage with Pakistan despite Pakistan’s repeated overtures for a comprehensive dialogue was adversely impacting regional stability,” it said.

The US officials visited Pakistan at a time when the relationship between the two countries are seen under pressure following US President Donald Trump’s tough stance against Pakistan in his policy for Afghanistan and South Asia in August.

Islamabad has been asking Washington not to make Pakistan the scapegoat for its failure in Afghanistan.