A senior U.S. diplomat had talks in Pakistan on Monday following an outcry over President Donald Trump’s accusation that the nuclear-armed South Asian state had engaged in “lies and deceit” as a U.S. ally in the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, met with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, the Foreign Ministry and U.S. Embassy said.
A Foreign Ministry statement said Wells “acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating terrorism” and “underlined the need for strengthening intelligence cooperation” to fight terrorism.
Relations between United States and Pakistan were already tense when Trump tweeted on Jan. 1 that the United States had foolishly given Pakistan US$33 billion in aid over 15 years and was rewarded with “nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools”.
It is not clear what prompted Trump’s tweet, which infuriated Pakistani officials and caught the rest of the U.S. administration off guard.
The United States has long complained that the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani networks that target American troops inside Afghanistan are allowed to take shelter on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan denies this, and accuses the United States of ignoring its vast sacrifices – casualties have numbered in the tens of thousands – in fighting terrorism.
The Trump administration also last week announced the suspension of about US$2 billion in security aid to Pakistan – officially a U.S. ally – over accusations that Islamabad is playing a double game in Afghanistan.
(Writing by Kay Johnson; editing by Mark Heinrich)