NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States was concerned that extremist groups pose a threat to the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.
Tillerson, who arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday after his visit to Islamabad, said the US was worried that too many extremist groups were finding safe havens inside Pakistan from which to launch attacks on other nations.
“Quite frankly my view—and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan—is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan’s government as well,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
“This could lead to a threat to Pakistan’s own stability. It is not in anyone´s interests that the government of Pakistan be destabilised.”
In New Delhi, the secretary of state thanked his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the US in combating extremism in the region.
US BACKS INDIA AS REGIONAL LEADER:
Tillerson, while addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi along with Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, said that Washington backed India as a leader in the region, a day after he sought Pakistan’s cooperation in restoring peace in Afghanistan and calling the country an ‘incredibly important’ player to deal with some of the pressing challenges facing the region.
Tillerson added that India was crucial to Afghan strategy.
In an apparent reference to Pakistan, he said that terrorist safe havens will not be tolerated.
The secretary of state earlier laid a wreath at a memorial to India´s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi, removing his shoes to approach a pillar marking the spot where Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.
On his maiden visit to Islamabad, Secretary Tillerson – while renewing the US demand seeking action against Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network – said many of the solutions to the regional challenges have to be found in Pakistan in a statement that underlines the importance of Islamabad in the Trump administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
“Pakistan has an incredibly important role in that South Asia strategy. The country is very important to us. The security, the stability of the country is very important to us,” the secretary of state remarked while interacting with the US Embassy staff before talks with Pakistani authorities.
Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan came months after US President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of harbouring “agents of chaos” who could attack US-led NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Tillerson’s warning followed an unannounced stop in Afghanistan Monday, where he reiterated US commitment to the country and warned that Washington has made “very specific requests” of Pakistan over militancy.
Meanwhile, India has agreed to hold talks on Afghanistan with the US and Kabul, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said after meeting Tillerson.
Support for efforts to bolster the Afghan government, China’s influence and other South Asian security issues are likely to be the focus of the discussion between the two leaders, officials reports stated.
Recently, Tillerson called upon India for deeper cooperation in the wake of the growing Chinese influence in the region adding that Washington wishes to promote a “free and open” region led by prosperous democracies.
He also said Beijing sometimes flouted international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.
India welcomed the comments, saying they “highlighted our shared commitment to a rule-based international order”.