US, Pakistan stay engaged to defuse tensions

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WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan are sending two key visitors — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal — to each other’s capitals, as efforts to mend their troubled relations continue.

The Pakistani interior minister arrives in Washington on Oct 11, a week after a three-day visit by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, whose candid remarks earned him both praise and criticism and strongly conveyed the message that US pressure to force a change in Islamabad is not working.

Secretary Tillerson plans to arrive in Islamabad late this month and he will be followed by Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis early next month.

Mr Mattis told a Congressional panel in Washington earlier this week that two US delegations — including assistant secretaries and national security staff — would visit Islamabad soon for talks on how to re-engage Pakistan in US efforts to win the Afghan war. And these visits will be followed by visits by himself and Secretary Tillerson, he told the House Armed Services Committee.

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