Mattis tells Pakistan to ‘redouble’ counterterrorism efforts in first visit

Mattis tells Pakistan to 'redouble' counterterrorism efforts in first visit

Defense Secretary James Mattis made his first visit to Pakistan as Pentagon chief on Monday, where the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy was the hot topic.

In meetings, Mattis pushed Pakistani officials to “redouble” their country’s efforts to fight terrorism, according to a Pentagon statement.

“The secretary emphasized the vital role that Pakistan can play in working with the United States and others to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that brings stability and security to the region,” chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said after the meetings.

“The secretary reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country.”

President Trump’s strategy to wind down the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan includes pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terrorist safe havens in its borders.

Pakistan denies that it provides safe haven to terrorists, often pointing to the operation launched in 2014 to clear groups such as the Haqqanis from the Waziristan border region with Afghanistan.

But the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said recently he has seen no change in behavior from Pakistan, despite Trump’s insistence for it to do more on terrorism.

“Pakistani leadership has come to Kabul and met with [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani,” Gen. John Nicholson told reporters in a briefing last week. “They identified certain steps that they were going to take. We’ve not yet seen those steps play out.”

Mattis said ahead of his Monday meeting that he was going to work on finding common ground with the Pakistanis.

“We know we have some common ground,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him Sunday. “They have lost hundreds, thousands of their troops killed and wounded by terrorists. They have lost hundreds, thousands of their innocent people murdered and wounded by terrorists.”

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