U.S. defense secretary meets Pakistan's prime minister


Pompeo's warning came just ahead of US Defence Secretary Gen. James Mattis' visit to Islamabad on Monday to reinforce President Donald Trump's call for an aggressive push against militants operating from Pakistani safe havens to frequently strike Afghan targets across the porous border.If Pakistan does not heed the US message on militants, "we are going to do everything we can to ensure that safe havens no longer exist", the Voice of America quoted the Central Intelligence Agency chief as saying over the weekend, while speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Earlier, speaking to reporters, the USA defense chief said: "We have heard from Pakistan leaders that they do not support terrorism".

During his visit, Mattis is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa. "The Secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country", White said in the statement.

A statement from Abbasi was even more upbeat, saying both countries share a commitment to the war against terrorism and asserting that there are "no safe havens" for militants in Pakistan.

Mattis called for deepening cooperation for eliminating terrorism in the region, according to the statement.

President Donald Trump's strategy for the 16-year-old conflict in Afghanistan takes a regional approach and prioritizes Pakistan's role in sheltering the Taliban and allied Haqqani network.

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"Let it come", Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters.

Bajwa, in a statement, said Mattis expressed concern about militants in Pakistan trying to "further their terrorist agenda" in Afghanistan, and said he is "prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan's hospitality".

Accounts of the meeting provided by both the USA and Pakistan state that the countries intend to work together to confront the conflict in Afghanistan, where the U.S.is fighting an insurgent Taliban, among other groups. He said the USA has been direct about its expectations from Pakistan.

"It was quite a frank exchange overall, in which there was no hostility", the minister said of the Pakistani leadership's meetings with the top United States official.

"I hope that Mike (Pompeo) and Jim Mattis are successful in making clear to the Pakistanis that got to be able to see a little broader and they have to go after terrorists within their own territory".

Pakistani officials have pushed back on the US accusations and say they have done a great deal to help the United States in tracking down militants. Such a move would alarm the populace and provoke the government, which has quietly cooperated with USA drone strikes in tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

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The strategy seeks Pakistan's support to defeat the Taliban as Washington believes that only a defeat will force them to reconcile with the Afghan government. And it said Abbasi appreciates "the USA resolve not to allow the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan".

"Pakistan has always been a problem".

Mattis began his five-day tour of the Middle East - including Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait - and Islamabad Dec. 1.

US official expressed hope relations could improve after a U.S.

Some commentators suggested that an enormous bomb dropped in August by USA warplanes just over the border in far-eastern Afghanistan, which had no apparent immediate objective and fell on a deserted former militant hideout in the mountains, was actually intended as a warning to Pakistan.

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