US military chief to accompany Pompeo to Pakistan next week

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph Dunford will visit Pakistan next week to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Speaking at a news briefing at the Pentagon, Mattis said Pompeo and General Dunford will meet with PM Imran and other Pakistani leaders and discuss relations between the two countries.

The two dignitaries are expected in Islamabad for a one-day visit on September 5.

Pompeo will hold discussion with Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team on issues of mutual interests. The US secretary of state will be the first foreign dignitary to meet the newly elected prime minister, who took oath of his office on August 18.

“Secretary Pompeo expressed his willingness to work with the new government towards a productive bilateral relationship,” the US State Department had said in a statement. The visit comes days after a verbal spat between Pakistan and US over accuracy of a State Department statement issued after a telephonic conversation between Pompeo and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Ties with the US worsened in January when President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of providing ‘safe havens’ to terrorists, suspending military assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Published in Daily Times, August 31st 2018.