ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States agreed to remain engaged for peace in Afghanistan.
This was agreed during a meeting between US Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa at the General Headquarters.
“Both reaffirmed the commitment towards the common goal of peace and stability in the region and discussed measures towards that end. Both also agreed on continued engagement at multiple levels,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.
American official Alice Wells meets Gen Bajwa
Amb Wells was on a three-day visit to Pakistan to again seek Pakistani authorities’ help for the Afghan peace process. She met Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa and Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar.
She also met business leaders and ambassadors from other embassies in Islamabad.
During her visit to Kabul, which preceded the Islamabad trip, Amb Wells said Taliban’s refusal to join the political process was “unacceptable”. She had further accused the “Taliban ….who are not residing in Afghanistan” of being obstacle to the peace talks. She was apparently referring to Pakistan-based Taliban against whom the US has long asked for action.
During her meetings, she reminded her interlocutors of Pakistan’s commitment to take action against all terrorist groups that might be found on its territory. “Ambassador Wells discussed Pakistan’s stated commitment to eliminating all terrorist groups present within its borders,” the US embassy said in an apparent reference to the Taliban elements claimed to be present in Pakistan.
The embassy said that Amb Wells’ discussion was consistent with the Trump administration’s South Asia and Afghanistan strategy. The strategy announced last year signalled that Washington might take coercive steps to push Pakistan to crack down against the Taliban and Haqqani network.
Pakistan Army chief holds talks with Chinese counterpart on CPEC, defence tie
Beijing :Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa held talks with his Chinese counterpart Gen Han Weiguo on the security of the multi-billion CPEC, defence cooperation, as well as regional and bilateral issues.
The meeting of Bajwa, who arrived at Beijing on a three-day official visit on Sunday, comes days after Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to Islamabad during which he held a comprehensive round of talks with Khan and Bajwa among others.
Both China and Pakistan’s new government led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan denied reports of differences over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
China subsequently announced expansion of the CPEC projects to western regions of Pakistan in an apparent move to address criticism by Khan in the past against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s government that most of the Chinese-funded projects were garnered by the dominant Punjab province.
India has protested to China on the CPEC as it traversed through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
While there is not much coverage in the official media in China, a statement by Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Gen. Han “appreciated and acknowledged high professional standing of Pakistan Army displayed while combating terrorism”.
He also appreciated the level of security being provided to the CPEC by Pakistan Army. Over 10,000 Chinese workers are said to be working in CPEC projects in Pakistan.
The security for them is provided by the Special Security Division comprising 15,000 troops, including 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 paramilitary forces personnel.
On terrorism related issues, China has been pressing Pakistan to crack down hard on Uyghur militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement from the restive Xinjaing province.
The Chinese General expressed his keen desire to benefit from Pakistan Army’s combat experience and also expand bilateral cooperation, the ISPR added.
Bajwa’s visit assumes significance as Wang during his visit had praised the Pakistani military’s role in the close ties between the two countries, saying that it is a “staunch guardian of China-Pakistan friendship”.
The CPEC, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative launched in 2015, is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong-un sign summit agreement in Pyongyang
Pyongyang: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed an agreement at the end of their summit talks here on Wednesday.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony held at the North`s state guesthouse Paekhwawon and broadcast live in Seoul.
Details of the agreement signed by the leaders were not immediately available, Yonhap news agency reported.
Yoon Young-chan, Moon`s top press secretary, earlier said the two leaders would hold a joint press conference to announce the outcome of their third bilateral summit, which began on Tuesday.
The countries also signed a fresh military agreement that is widely believed to be aimed at further reducing tension between the divided Koreas.
Details of the military agreement, signed by the countries` defence chiefs, were also not available.
Search on for victims, death toll rises to 74
Itogon (Cordillera Administrative Region): Hundreds of Philippine rescuers used shovels and their bare hands to sift through a massive landslide where dozens are feared dead in the region worst-hit by deadly Typhoon Mangkhut, as the storm’s toll hit 74.
The storm, 2018’s most powerful, smashed homes and flooded key agricultural regions in the northern Philippines before battering Hong Kong and southern China with fierce winds and heavy rain.
Hong Kong was still struggling to get back on its feet with a massive clean-up operation to clear broken trees, repair torn-up roads and fix damaged power lines.
The violent typhoon killed four in China’s southern province of Guangdong and the toll climbed on Tuesday to 74 on the Philippines’ northern Luzon island according to police, with that number expected to rise.
Up to 40 people are still feared buried in the landslide in Itogon, unleashed Saturday as the typhoon stalled over the area and dumped a month’s worth of rain in a matter of hours.
“While I said there is a 99-percent chance that all of them are dead, there is still that one-percent chance,” local Mayor Victorio Palangdan told AFP.
“The rescue effort will continue until the president orders us to stop,” he said.
Because the slide destroyed roads, authorities have been unable to bring heavy equipment into the area to accelerate the search. As a result the teams were using human chains to extract debris.
The area was primed for disaster before Mangkhut hit, as it came on the heels of nearly a month of continuous monsoon rains that left the already hazardous area soggy and dangerously loose.
Almost all the storm’s victims were killed in dozens of landslides unleashed along the Cordillera mountain range, a key gold mining area.
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