Home Latest News John Kerry Arrives on Unannounced Visit to Pakistan

John Kerry Arrives on Unannounced Visit to Pakistan

by AFP
Rick Wilking-Pool—AFP

Rick Wilking-Pool—AFP

U.S. Secretary of State to meet P.M. Sharif and discuss elimination of all terrorist groups.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Monday on an unannounced visit to Pakistan for key talks, only weeks after the country’s worst-ever militant attack left 150 dead in a school.

“The secretary’s engagement will be very critical to advancing our shared fight against militant extremism,” a senior State Department official said, adding Kerry would chair annual strategic talks between the two countries.

Last week’s extremist attacks in Paris have sharpened the global focus on militant terrorism, although governments have been on high alert since a series of brutal attacks around the world last year. Pakistan has strengthened its anti-terror strategy since the Dec. 16 Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, which killed 134 children and 16 adults and sparked global outrage.

Schools across Pakistan, including APS, reopened on Monday after an extended break following the assault.

Kerry at the time along with President Barack Obama led global condemnation, calling the attack “gut-wrenching.”

The State Department official, who asked to remain anonymous, said there was an “intensifying conversation on Pakistani counter-terrorism operations in North Waziristan and elsewhere” following the attack.

While there has been good cooperation in the fight against Al Qaeda militants, the U.S. wanted to “ensure that actions are met with a real and sustained effort to constrain the ability” of other groups such as the Haqqani Network, as well as the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed the school attack, and the Afghan Taliban.

Kerry “will meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and co-chair the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Ministerial with Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz,” a short statement by the State Department said.

Kerry is also set to visit the school, according to Aziz. “We heard you are planning to visit Peshawar and the school,” said the national security adviser to P.M. Sharif during a meeting with Kerry shortly after he reached Pakistan. There was no immediate State Department confirmation of Kerry’s visit.

“We’ll be talking about the elimination and not distinguishing between any terrorist groups,” the official said. “It’s obviously no secret that the U.S. has pushed Pakistan to do far more on counter-terrorism. But I also think that the Government of Pakistan deserves credit for moving pretty decisively both after Peshawar and in the actions it has undertaken in North Waziristan,” the official said.

Kerry also wanted to discuss ways to improve Afghan-Pakistani ties as well as reconciliation efforts with Taliban militants in each country. Recent violence along the border in Kashmir between India and Pakistan would also be high on the agenda.

Kerry arrived after a short visit to India, where he attended an investment conference in the western state of Gujarat alongside new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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