Pakistan’s foreign minister to discuss Trump’s Afghan plans with Russia and China

Talks with Moscow and Beijing follow US President’s announcement of new strategy in which he accused Islamabad of harbouring terrorists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2017, 9:34pm

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry on Friday said that Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif will soon visit China and Russia for consultations over the new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

Nafess Zakari, a spokesman for the ministry, told a weekly briefing that no date has been fixed for the visits.

“You have already seen the emergence of our new partnership,” he said, referring to Islamabad’s tilt toward Moscow and its strategic partnership with China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. “New momentum is being given to regional activity.”

Regarding the timing of his upcoming visit to the United States, media reports said that Asif will visit Washington after holding consultations with the Chinese and Russian leaderships.

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month extended the invitation to Asif, with the new

American approach to South Asia set to top the agenda.

In his address on Monday presenting his administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and warned that the two countries’ partnership may unravel if it continues.

Pakistan denies sheltering terrorists and in turn has accused Afghanistan of providing shelter to fugitives who carried out terrorist acts on its side of the border.

The following day, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tahmina Janjua visited Beijing where she met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

It was during her stay in the Chinese capital that Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, rang up Tillerson to say that Pakistan’s role in the resolution of the Afghan conflict should be recognised and its sovereignty respected.

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During the briefing Zakari was asked if a new “Great Game” was being played in the region and if strategic collision could take place in the region because of the new alliances and partnerships.

“You have your own ways to understand why it is happening. This is a fertile region. This is an area in which natural resources are underexploited,” he said.

He added that the region was in the grip of developments because of both economic and political reasons.