ISLAMABAD – The charge d’affaires of the United States Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on Tuesday called for a new bilateral relationship with Pakistan at the conclusion of a two-day visit to the south Asian country.
Alice Wells highlighted the need to step up measures against terrorism in order for the US-Pakistan relationship to develop.
“Ambassador Wells underlined that the United States seeks to move toward a new relationship with Pakistan, based on our mutual interest in realizing a stable and prosperous region,” according to the US Embassy in Islamabad.
Wells, who did not address the press during her stay in Pakistan, headed the first high-level visit by the US to Pakistan, following the former’s decision earlier this month to suspend security aid to the country.
During her visit, she urged the Pakistani government to act against the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban that Washington and Kabul claim have taken refuge in Pakistan along with other terror groups.
The US diplomat underlined that US’s South Asia strategy represents “an opportunity to work together” in bringing peace to Afghanistan, defeating the Islamic State and eliminating terrorist groups that threaten both the US and Pakistan.
As part of this strategy, unveiled in August by US President Donald Trump, the US announced an increase of 3,000 troops in Afghanistan in September.
On Jan. 4, Washington suspended its coalition support funds program towards Pakistan, amounting up to $900 million, until Islamabad took decisive steps in the fight against terrorism.
The announcement came after Trump posted a message on Twitter on Jan. 1, in which he accused Islamabad of “lies and deceit” and “giving safe haven to the terrorists” after receiving 33 billion dollars from the US over the last 15 years.
On Monday, Wells met with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, who expressed to need for carrying forward the relations with the US in an environment of trust and mutual respect, according to a statement by the Pakistan foreign ministry.
The US and Afghanistan for years have accused Pakistan of providing refuge to the Taliban’s Haqqani network, which stages attacks on US and Afghan troops, a claim that Islamabad denies.