US ready to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorists seeking safe havens: Tillerson


WASHINGTON: The United States is prepared to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorist organisations seeking safe havens, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Wednesday.

In the article titled 'I Am Proud of Our Diplomacy', Tillerson gave an overview of US diplomacy since the Trump administration took over in January and how the administration was dealing with issues on the foreign policy front.

According to Secretary Tillerson, the United States' commitment to stop terrorism and extremism motivated the Trump administration to adopt a new South Asia strategy focusing on Afghanistan.

"That country [Afghanistan] cannot become a safe haven for terrorists, as it was in the days before the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan must contribute by combating terrorist groups on its own soil," he wrote, before once again pushing the 'do more' mantra, adding that Islamabad "must demonstrate its desire to partner with us".

'Pakistan has done enough'

Pakistan has responded by saying it has already 'done enough' in the US-led war on terror and "cannot do any more for anyone".

In a press conference on Thursday, military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said no organised infrastructure of a terrorist organisation exists inside Pakistan.

"We have been saying that Pakistan has fought twice an imposed and imported war inside Pakistan. We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure. We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone. Whatever we are doing and shall, will only be done for Pakistan," said the Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR).

"Had we not supported, al-Qaeda would not have been defeated," he added.

China must 'do more' to pressure North Korea

In the NYT op-ed, The United States' top diplomat defended his country's foreign policy, saying progress had been made in the last year to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions and to counter the "immense challenges" posed by Russia, China and Iran.

Tillerson said some 90 percent of Pyongyang's export earnings had been cut off by a series of international sanctions after the Trump administration "abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience".

He said "a door to dialogue remains open" for Pyongyang but warned, "until denuclearization occurs, the pressure will continue".

At the same time, he called on China – Pyongyang's only major ally – to "do more" to pressure North Korea.

Iran nuclear deal 'flawed', no longer US policy focal point

Tillerson described the Iran nuclear deal as 'flawed' and said that it was no longer the focal point of US policy towards Tehran.

"We are now confronting the totality of Iranian threats," he said while adding that tart of this strategy entails rebuilding alliances with our partners in the Middle East.

Secretary Tillerson said that in November, the US helped re-establish diplomatic ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

"We will continue to work with our allies and with Congress to explore options for addressing the nuclear deal's many flaws while building a like-minded effort to punish Iran for its violations of ballistic missile commitments and its destabilizing activities in the region.

'US on guard against Russian aggression'

Tillerson described relations with Russia as poor saying that "we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with".

"The United States today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others," he added".

However, he said that while the US is on guard against Russian aggression, "we recognise the need to work with Russia where mutual interests intersect".

"Nowhere is that more evident than in Syria," he said while adding that while President Vladimir Putin has committed to the United Nations-backed Geneva political process for providing a new future for Syria, "we expect Russia to follow through".

"We are confident that the fulfillment of these talks will produce a Syria that is free of Bashar al-Assad and his family," he wrote.