Mattis seeks more cooperation with Pakistan on terror fight

The US secretary of defence will meet PM Abbasi and COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa during the visit

He will begin his engagements with a visit to Egypt on December 2 and then travel to Jordan on December 3.

On November 24, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had confirmed that US Defence Secretary James Mattis would conduct a one-day visit to the country.

Mattis departed today on a five-day trip to reaffirm the enduring US commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia, Defense Department officials said.

Mattis is scheduled to meet with leaders in each nation "to re-affirm the enduring United States commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia", said Pentagon in the statement.

"We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism".

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According to U.S. defense department Pentagon, Secretary of Defense will hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In his response, Mattis said, "That's not the way I deal with issues. But what we're looking for is to broaden the common ground and make certain that no terrorist organisation is seen as able to operate from a haven there", he said.

Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, militants in Pakistan have crossed the mountainous and ill-defined border to wage attacks against U.S., Afghan and allied forces.

Mattis had said in October 2017, the USA would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before President Donald Trump would turn to options to address Islamabad's alleged support for militant groups. Trump while announcing the strategy had criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists.

The White House, meanwhile, condemned Pakistan's release late last month of a USA -wanted militant as a "step in the wrong direction" and warned that it could harm Islamabad's relations with America and its reputation around the world.

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