Tillerson in Pakistan to Push for More Action Against Militants

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi before their meeting at the prime minister's residence, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Pakistan Tuesday to meet with leaders there and reinforce the Trump administration’s message that they need to take more action against the Taliban and other militant groups receiving support in the country.

Shortly after landing in Islamabad, Tillerson led his delegation into meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Senior Pakistani officials, as well as the country’s military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and head of the spy agency, were also in attendance.

“Pakistan is important, as you know, regionally to the U.S. Our security relationships are so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security for the region,” Tillerson said during handshake with Abbasi before opening formal talks.

“We are committed to the war against terrorism…and we look forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building, as you said, an economic relationship,” the Pakistani prime minister said in response to Tillerson’s comments.

Tillerson briefly visited Afghanistan on a previously unannounced trip Monday where he held a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and other top officials of the Afghan unity government.

“Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they’re confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organizations that find safe haven inside of Pakistan,” Tillerson said after concluding the talks.

He said the U.S. relationship with Pakistan will be based on how Pakistan acts, and that the goal is to create the opportunity for peace and stability both there and in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is accused of publicly supporting the U.S.-led international mission in Afghanistan but secretly providing support and shelter to the Taliban as well as its dread ally, the Haqqani network. Islamabad denies the charges.

VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem and Nike Ching contributed to this report.