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Pakistan to resolve issues with US in peaceful manner: Defence Minister

06 September, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir on Tuesday said Pakistan would seek to resolve issues with the US in a peaceful manner and expressed the hope for quality bilateral engagement in future.

Talking to reporters after a meeting of the National Assembly’s committee on defence, he said: “We are trying to resolve the issues amicably because any American action would cause instability in Pakistan.”

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s policy statement on Afghanis­tan and South Asia, the government is strategising its future engagement with the US as Pakistan was chastised ‘for not acting against alleged terrorist sanctuaries used to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries’.

The defence minister hoped that Pakistan and the US would have “better and quality future engagements”.

The national security committee, in its last meeting, formed a sub-committee to finalise policy recommendations on relations with the US.

Recommendations of an envoys’ conference — which is presently being held at the Foreign Office — will also be considered by the National Security Committee’s sub-committee while devising the new approach on the US.

Earlier, statements by the National Security Adviser and the Foreign Office spokesman underscored that Pakistani leaders were clear that disengagement was not an option, which was reaffirmed by the defence minister’s statement.

President Trump in his policy statement did not elaborate on the actions that he contemplated taking against Pakistan if his concerns were not addressed.

However, in a statement issued later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said all options were on the table, including cuts in military assistance and revocation of the status of a non-Nato ally. There were hints that other punitive actions were also being considered.

Mr Dastagir said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif would embark on a visit to regional countries for consultations on the new US policy. He was initially planning to travel to China, Russia and Turkey, but added Iran to the list on the insistence of opposition parties.

After the regional tour, the foreign minister will go to Washington for bilateral talks.

During his US visit, Mr Asif will discuss Pakistan’s reservations on President Trump’s statement and other bilateral issues.
Envoys conference

A three-day conference of envoys from various capitals began at the Foreign Office on Tuesday to deliberate on a range of bilateral, regional and global dimensions of Pakistan’s foreign policy, said an FO statement.

The envoys would come up with a set of recommendations for dealing with the foreign policy challenges facing the country, especially in the aftermath of announcement of the US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

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