Destroying terror havens key to Pak’s ties with neighbours: US

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Friday asked top Pakistani leadership to destroy terrorist safe havens in the restive North Waziristan, which he said is not only in the interest of Pakistan but also for having positive relationship with its neighbours.

‘Countering cross-border militancy and shutting down safe havens is critical not only for Pakistan’s long-term peace and prosperity but also for positive relations between Pakistan and all its neighbours, including Afghanistan,’ Burns said in a statement.

Burns, who arrived in Pakistan 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.

‘We appreciate Pakistan’s efforts to further Afghan-led reconciliation and we remain hopeful that we will conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement later this year that will enable us to continue to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces and go after the remnants of core al-Qaeda. ‘This is deeply in our interest and in the interest of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the rest of South and Central Asia,’ Burns said.

Observing that militancy continues to threaten Pakistan’s revival, Burns said few countries have paid a heavier price than Pakistan in the fight against extremism. ‘We support the Prime Minister’s efforts to reestablish authority over all Pakistani territory in whatever way Pakistan deems appropriate, and especially urge him to sustain pressure on militant groups, deny them a safe-haven, and prevent cross-border attacks,’ he added. 
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