Talks seek ‘com­mon ground’

Of­fi­cials work to patch things up af­ter Twit­ter re­bukes, aid sus­pen­sion

The Dallas Morning News - - World - Shashank Ben­gali,

MUMBAI, In­dia — In the weeks since the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion with­held nearly $1 bil­lion in se­cu­rity aid for Pak­istan, Wash­ing­ton and Islamabad of­fi­cials have been work­ing to patch things up and avert a dan­ger­ous de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in their of­ten trou­bled re­la­tion­ship.

Sev­eral U.S. of­fi­cials have met with se­nior Pak­istani civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­ers to find what one called “com­mon ground” af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­buked Pak­istan in a se­ries of Twit­ter posts and then said the U.S. would no longer pro­vide aid to Islamabad.

Trump ac­cused Pak­istan of do­ing noth­ing to as­sist in the U.S.-led war ef­fort in neigh­bor­ing Afghanistan and of not crack­ing down on mil­i­tants that at­tack U.S. and Afghan forces across the bor­der.

Some U.S. and Afghan of­fi­cials ex­pressed con­cern that Pak­istan would re­tal­i­ate by no longer shar­ing in­tel­li­gence or by rais­ing the costs for U.S.-led NATO forces to use Pak­istani air and land cor­ri­dors into Afghanistan.

U.S. and Pak­istani of­fi­cials say nei­ther has hap­pened, and in con­ver­sa­tions over the past week the two sides have tried to move past Trump’s state­ments.

The Pak­istani army said in a pre­pared state­ment Fri­day that the head of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, Gen. Joseph Vo­tel, said in a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Pak­istan’s chief of army staff that the “on­go­ing tur­bu­lence” in the coun­tries’ re­la­tion­ship was “a tem­po­rary phase.”

Vo­tel also told Gen. Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa that the U.S. was seek­ing its co­op­er­a­tion to cap­ture mil­i­tants based on Pak­istani soil who carry out at­tacks in Afghanistan, the Pak­istani state­ment said.


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