FM embarks on 3-day U.S. visit: state media

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif embarked on a three-day visit to the United States on Tuesday for talks on bilateral relations, focusing on regional security and Afghanistan, state media reported.

Pakistan television reported that the Foreign Minister will hold formal talks with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson in Washington. The meeting is scheduled forWednesday.

Khawaja Asif will also meet President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, according to reports.

The Foreign Minister told a private TV channel on Monday that he would clear Pakistan’s position in meetings with the U.S. officials.

The visit takes amid tensions following the public and serious accusation President Donald Trump had leveled against Pakistan when he declared his policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Asif’s visit is the first bilateral since

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nafees Zakaria has, however; said that the last month’s meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly were also “instrumental in dispelling impressions created with regard to Pakistan-US relations and Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, bridging gaps, and reaffirmation of similarity of views on the situation in this region and how to tackle the challenges.”

“The meetings that took place with the US leadership on the sidelines of UNGA Session, helped in allaying misperception about the relations and bridging gaps,” Zakaria said at regular briefing last week.

“What emerged from these interactions was the desire on both sides to engage with each other. Given this backdrop, you should be expecting visits in the near future from both sides,” he further said.

A U.S. high level delegation is also expected to visit Pakistan later this month for more talks, officials have said.

Afghanistan has long been alleging that Pakistan has “not taken sufficient measures” against the Afghan Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani Network. Pakistan denies the charges and insists actions have been taken against all groups and without any discrimination.