Mattis departs for five-day Middle East trip

In the statement issued here Saturday US Defense Secretary also said that Washington wants progress in Pak-US relations

Mr. Mattis would reach Pakistan on December 4, the second such trip after U.S.

Let it be known that on November 24, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had confirmed that US Defence Secretary James Mattis would conduct a one-day visit to the country.

United States defence secretary James Mattis has said that his upcoming visit to Pakistan was part of an effort to "set the conditions for future collaboration" that would lead to denial of safe havens "for any terrorist group that would attack anyone in the region".

He will begin his engagements with a visit to Egypt on December 2 and then travel to Jordan on December 3.

The US Defence Secretary is likely to meet the Prime Minister Abassi and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwaand during his visit to Pakistan.

USA officials have always been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan's reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that they believe exploit safe haven on Pakistani soil to launch attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.

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On Monday, he will visit Pakistan to discuss the South Asian Strategy. Pakistan has vehemently denied all such claims.

The visit comes amid media reports about purported plans by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday.

Mattis is expected to exert more pressure on Islamabad to do more against militant groups.

Early this week, Gen John Nicholson, the commander of the USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, rued that Pakistan has not been able to carry out the counterterrorism actions which it promised to the Trump administration after the announcement of the new South Asia Strategy.

"This is an effort.by the American administration to go in and set the conditions for future collaboration that leads to reconciliation in Afghanistan and a denial of safe havens for any terrorist group that would attack anyone in the region or elsewhere in the world, which a number of countries have suffered from", Mattis said.

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