DG-ISI

Sartaj, foreign secretary also in US to hold preparatory meetings with US officials

Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar held meetings with top US intelligence officials during his visit to Washington and discussed strategic issues and counter-terrorism.

The DG ISI, upon his return Sunday evening, will present a report to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and brief the premier regarding details of his discussions with US officials. Nawaz is expected to depart for the US following the briefing.

PM Nawaz, who was scheduled to leave for London on Sunday en-route to Washington on his second state visit to the US, has delayed his visit by a day, well-placed sources revealed.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary left for Washington early on Sunday ahead of the premier’s visit in order to hold preparatory meetings with senior US officials.

Speaking to BBC Urdu on Saturday, Sartaj Aziz said that the purpose of Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington was discussion on nuclear safety without compromising on the extent of Pakistan’s defence capabilities.

“Our main priority is to protect national interest and security, and we will not compromise on this,” Sartaj said.

The National Security Advisor’s statement follows international media reports which claim the US is ready to help Pakistan join the Nuclear Suppliers Group if it accepts certain restrictions on its nuclear programme.

The White House later said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama are not going to sign a nuclear deal next week but they will discuss the nuclear issue in their meeting.

Aziz said core issues to be discussed during the upcoming talks with the US include Pak-India relations, restoration of peace in Afghanistan and trade and investment opportunities.

Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi has expressed hope that Nawaz’s upcoming visit will strengthen bilateral ties with the US, Radio Pakistan reported.

He said that discussions with the US officials regarding trade, economy, investment and energy were on the agenda, adding that Pakistan would attempt to gain access to US markets and urge American firms to invest in Pakistan.

Fatemi also said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was purely for peaceful purposes.

Pakistan has been asking the United States for a civilian nuclear deal since 2008 and has also been building its case for admission into the NSG.

In this regard, Pakistan recently updated its export control list for sensitive technologies and goods to make it compatible with international regimes.

The move was praised by the US. But the strings attached to President Obama’s offer are unlikely to be acceptable to Pakistan.

Besides the discussion on the US proposal for Pakistan’s nuclear mainstreaming, Sharif will also tell US President Barack Obama about what Pakistan is doing to help restart the Afghan reconciliation process that stalled after news of Mullah Omar’s death broke out and also about what the government is doing to fight terrorism at home.

“Next week, I will host Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan and I will continue to urge all parties in the region to press the Taliban to return to peace talks and to do their part in pursuit of the peace that Afghans deserve,” President Obama said on Thursday.

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