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The US is concerned about the future of the government in Pakistan and wants to ensure long-term stability in the country, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said as the two countries attempted to repair their ties after a bitter war of words. Tillerson's comments came after his meeting with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who is visiting the US as part of efforts to rebuild the bilateral ties frayed after President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of sheltering terror groups. "This is about the importance of Pakistan, and Pakistans long-term stability as well. We have concerns about the future of Pakistans government too...we want their government to be stable.
We want it to be peaceful," Tillerson said. "Many of the issues they're struggling with inside Pakistan are American issues," he said without elaborating. Pakistan witnessed a political crisis in July when the Supreme Court disqualified then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty in the Panama Papers case, forcing him to quit. Since then, the PML-N chief has been raising questions against the verdict in public gatherings. Asif, during his meeting with Tillerson at the State Department, defended Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism. The meeting signalled a gradual resumption of talks between the two countries that was paused by Pakistan which was upset after Trump's new South Asia and Afghan policy that proposed greater role for India in the war-torn country. This was the first high-level meeting after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session last month in New York. According to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, the two leaders talked about their mutual commitment to advancing a multifaceted relationship between the US and Pakistan based on "shared interest" in a secure, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan. Trump's new South Asia strategy announced in August also figured during their talks. After the meeting, Tillerson told reporters that he believed that the US has a partner in Pakistan. Responding to a question, he said the US' relationship with Pakistan is "extraordinarily" important regionally. The South Asia strategy rolled out by President Trump, he observed, was in a regional context, and not just about Afghanistan. According to the statement issued by the Pakistan Embassy here, Asif said the US and Pakistan shared a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large. Asif told Tillerson that Pakistan is winning its war against terrorism. He also informed the secretary of state about the strong public reaction in Pakistan to the pronouncement of the US administration's South Asia Policy - based on inadequate recognition of Pakistan's sterling contribution in the fight against terrorism, the statement said. "Secretary Tillerson agreed that cooperation between Pakistan and the US in Afghanistan was crucial to achieving durable peace and stability in the region," it added. "He remarked that Pakistan's interests and concerns will be accommodated since its role was critical to President Trump's South Asia Strategy. He added that future stability of Pakistan was an important element of the strategy," it added. Asif also raised the issue of Kashmir during the meeting.
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