US Senators Visit Pakistan, Discuss Afghan Peace, Counterterrorism

A group of key American lawmakers led by Senator John McCain visited Pakistan Sunday where they met top government and military officials to discuss bilateral ties, counterterrorism cooperation, and efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan.

The visit came as President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to unveil its new Afghan war strategy later this month amid allegations sanctuaries on Pakistani soil are helping the Taliban sustain and intensify the insurgency.

The U.S. senators held extensive talks at the foreign ministry where Pakistani side was led by foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz, said an official statement after the meeting.

It said Aziz briefed the delegation on Pakistani security forces’ success against terrorism and informed them “that the terrorist networks have been dismantled and their sanctuaries eliminated.”

The adviser told the visitors Pakistan looked forward to a “constructive” engagement with the United States on efforts aimed at promoting a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

He noted that Islamabad was also ready to strengthen and deepen its partnership with Washington to counter “the expanding footprint in the region” of Islamic State terrorists.

The Pakistani statement quoted McCain, who heads Senate Armed Services Committee, as appreciating contributions and sacrifices by Islamabad in the fight against terrorism, and underscored the importance of continued engagement between the two countries.

The U.S. delegation later held a meeting with the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in Rawalpindi, where the military is headquartered.

The two sides agreed on the importance of security cooperation and coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan, said a military statement late Sunday.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator David Perdue and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse were among other members of the U.S. delegation.

Pakistan’s alleged links to the Afghan Taliban and their dreaded Haqqani network ally have long been at the center of tensions with the United States.

The accusations have also strained ties between Islamabad and Kabul, even as Pakistani officials reject the charges.


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