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Pakistan vows cooperation in fight against terror groups

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a Cabinet meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington D.C.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS/TNS

By CAROL MORELLO | The Washington Post | Published: October 24, 2017

Pakistan's prime minister pledged his country's cooperation in fighting militants during talks Tuesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has repeatedly said Pakistan must do more to curb support for terrorist groups.

"The U.S. can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today, Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror," Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Tillerson just before their closed-door talks began.

Shortly before, Tillerson had alluded to U.S. concerns that Pakistan is providing safe haven to terrorist groups. Tillerson has said U.S. aid may be cut if Pakistan does not act more proactively against the groups, and Islamabad is jeopardizing Pakistan's future by not pushing out militant groups that range across the border into Afghanistan.

"Pakistan is important, as you know, regionally, to the U.S. security relationships, and so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship as well," he said.

On Monday, during a short visit to Afghanistan, Tillerson said he intended to make clear that Pakistan's relationship with the United States will suffer if Pakistan does not do more to undermine the support the Taliban and other groups receive in Pakistan.

Abbassi appeared eager to assure Tillerson he had heard the message and Islamabad is prepared to take more action.

"We are committed in the war against terror," he told Tillerson. "We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship."

Tillerson's visit to Pakistan is expected to last only a few hours, before he heads to New Delhi for lengthier discussions. Last week, he called for stronger economic and military ties between India and the United States. He said India, the world's most populous democracy and a bitter rival of Pakistan, will be part of an alliance that ensures security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

In August, President Donald Trump unveiled his policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. He strongly criticized Pakistan for offering protection to "agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan. He warned Islamabad that it has "much to lose" by not hitting terrorist groups more forcefully.

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