'Common ground' theme in testy US-Pakistan ties

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US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said he intends to work hard to find common ground with Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, which is necessary to restore the level of stability in South Asia to allow economic development.

"We're committed (to) the war against terror", he said.

"He agreed with Secretary Mattis that both Pakistan and the US have common stakes in securing peace and security in Afghanistan for the long term stability of the broader region", the statement further said.

A day before the Mattis arrived in Islamabad, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo had warned Pakistan that if it does not eliminate the alleged safe havens inside its territory, the USA would do "everything we can" to destroy them.

"Gen Mattis expressed his respect for Pakistan Armed Forces and the effective operations undertaken against terrorists", the statement said, adding that "He highlighted concern that a few elements continue to use Pakistan's territory to further their terrorist agenda in Afghanistan. We cannot only imagine it, it's a reality right now", Mattis said.

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They chose to continue efforts for Afghan peace.

Islamabad has agreed to initiate fresh efforts to bring Taliban back to the negotiation table, following an ice-breaking visit of Pakistan's army chief to Kabul in October, according to Pakistani media reports. However sources said the Pakistani leadership ruled out the possibility of the same.

During the talks, Pakistan put forward two solid demands in order to stop cross border terrorism. "We have eliminated safe havens from Pakistan's soil but are prepared to look into the possibility of miscreants exploiting Pakistan's hospitality to the Afghan Refugees to the detriment of our Afghan brothers", it said.

A statement released later on Monday from Abbasi's office echoed the term "common ground", and said Mattis had emphasised he was "keenly aware" of the thousands of lives Pakistan has lost in its long battle with militancy. Ahead of his visit to Islamabad, Mattis said he wants to work with Pakistan, listening to one another without being combative with one another, listening to others perspective, to address the problems.

Pakistan is confident that the United States will amend its South Asia strategy announced by President Trump in August this year.

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