William Burns asks Pakistan to destroy terrorist sanctuaries

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns today asked Pakistan`s top leadership to destroy terrorist sanctuaries in the restive North Waziristan before a new government takes charge in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Islamabad: US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns today asked Pakistan`s top leadership to destroy terrorist sanctuaries in the restive North Waziristan before a new government takes charge in neighbouring Afghanistan, according to a media report.

Burns, who arrived last night on his first visit as Deputy Secretary of State, met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and special assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi.

"Burns conveyed the message of the United States to top Pakistani civil and military officials during the meetings, asking for the destruction of terrorist sanctuaries located in North Waziristan," Dawn News quoted sources as saying.

On behalf of the US, he requested that this operation should be completed before the installation of the new political administration in Afghanistan, it said.

There was no official word on any such discussion.

A short statement from the Prime Minister`s Office said: "Bilateral and regional issues were discussed in the meeting."

About the meeting with Gen Raheel, the Pakistani military statement said, "During the meeting, matters of mutual interest including regional security situation came under discussion."

However, Dawn reported that Burns discussed security along the Pak-Afghan border and "shared more information about terrorist sanctuaries, calling for possible strikes against them".

Interior Minister Khan said Pakistan enjoys good ties with the US and stressed on greater coordination and cooperation in relations in the wake of regional situation developing as a result of the drawdown of ISAF forces from Afghanistan.

He outlined Pakistan`s concerns over the situation in the post-2014 scenario, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Khan said a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of the international community particularly of Pakistan.

Khan said Pakistan is looking forward to working with the new Afghan government but emphasised that any bilateral or regional arrangement must address Pakistan`s concerns and interests.

The US Deputy Secretary of State said that the US has a long-term commitment to Pakistan and also in ensuring security and stability of the region.

He assured Khan of the US`s continuous and long-term cooperation with Pakistan, the statement said.

The Foreign Office was forthcoming about what transpired in the meeting with special assistant to the Prime Minister Fatemi. It said that regional issues, including Afghanistan, were discussed.
"With regards to Afghanistan, the importance of deeper consultations between Pakistan and the US was underscored during the meeting.
"The Special Assistant reiterated Pakistan`s support for the democratic process in Afghanistan and stressed that smooth security and economic transitions were also fundamental for stability in Afghanistan and the region. Both sides also discussed the post-2014 situation and matters relating to Afghan peace and reconciliation process," the statement said.

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