US officials’ visit to Islamabad focuses on Afghanistan

foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch

ISLAMABAD: High-level US officials are set to embark on diplomatic visits to Islamabad this December, with a primary focus on discussions surrounding Afghanistan and various bilateral concerns.

The revelation comes from a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) on Sunday, shedding light on the ongoing consultations between Pakistan and the United States.

FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch emphasised the multifaceted nature of the talks, extending beyond the complexities of the Afghan situation.

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Both nations are actively engaged in reciprocal visits aimed at expediting the consultation process. In the coming days, significant US dignitaries are expected to touch down in Pakistan to further these discussions.

Pakistan has consistently held Kabul responsible for the surge in terrorist activities, attributing the misuse of Afghan resources, including oil, for attacks on its soil. Recently, the Pakistani government urged the Taliban-led administration to extradite Hafiz Gul Bahadur following a terrorist strike in Bannu perpetrated by a member of his group. The attack on November 26 resulted in two civilian fatalities and left 10 individuals injured, including three soldiers.

In response to the heightened security concerns, Pakistan has been actively deporting illegal Afghan residents, citing the connection between their presence and the increased frequency of terror attacks.

Scheduled for a visit from December 4 to 6, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Julieta Valls Noyes, is expected to engage with senior government officials, as well as representatives from non-governmental and international organizations.

The discussions during her visit will center around collaborative efforts to safeguard vulnerable individuals and expedite the secure relocation and resettlement of Afghan refugees within the US immigration system.

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Simultaneously, FO spokesperson Baloch disclosed that Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West will be in Islamabad from December 7 to 9, followed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Elizabeth Horst’s visit from December 9 to 12.

Stressing the comprehensive nature of these engagements, the spokesperson reiterated that the negotiations with the US encompass a spectrum of issues, extending beyond the immediate concern of the Afghan situation.

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