Senior US official holds talks in Pakistan on Afghan security

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A senior American diplomat dealing with Afghanistan on Thursday held talks with Pakistani officials in Islamabad and discussed the "deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan", the Foreign Ministry said. The US Acting Under Secretary of State and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Alice Wells, arrived in Islamabad at a time when President Trump's administration was in the process of finalising review on Afghanistan. The State Department says Alice Wells was paying introductory visit to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan to "discuss US relations with the region" and to meet US officials to "learn more about their efforts to advance US prosperity and security across the region." The US official met Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional issues, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly briefing. Ambassador Alice Wells has recently assumed charge as Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her visit is taking place against the backdrop of US policy review on Afghanistan in regional perspective. "We consider it an important visit, which provides us an opportunity to discuss bilateral relation and share our perspectives on Afghanistan and the broader issues related to the region," the Pakistani spokesman said. He said all issues were discussed, including the outstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as comprehensive discussions in the context of situation in Afghanistan. "We forcefully took up the matter of Indian atrocities and grave human rights violations committed by Indian occupation forces on defenceless Kashmiris," Zakaria said. To a question about the US review, he said Pakistan strongly believes that peace in Afghanistan is extremely important for the security of the entire region, more so, for the Afghans. "It is important that all efforts should be geared towards a politically negotiated settlement under an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan remains ready to extend full assistance to that end," the spokesman said.