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Pakistan Foreign Minister embarks on 3-day US visit

Islamabad, Oct 3 (IANS) Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif left for a three-day tour of the US on Tuesday, where he is expected to meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resume bilateral talks and work out ways to dispel tensions that cropped up after US President Donald Trump’s announcement of a new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

The Foreign Minister told Geo News on Monday that he would clear Pakistan’s position in meetings with US officials. He will also reportedly meet US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster during the trip.

The visit comes amid tensions following Trump’s accusation of Pakistan “being a safe haven for terrorist organisations”.

Asif will also be addressing a gathering at the US Institute of Peace in Washington on US-Pakistan relations on October 5, the institute said, pointing out that Trump’s speech had not only “unsettled US-Pakistan relations” but also had “serious implications for US interests in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation and stability in the region”.

US Vice-President Mike Pence had met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly earlier this month and suggested sending a US delegation to Islamabad for talks aimed at removing tensions.

While accepting the proposal, Pakistan had asked for a high-level meeting in Washington to defuse the tensions. In response, Washington had invited Asif for a meeting with Tillerson on October 4, the report said.

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