US urges Pakistan to confront extremist groups

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White House spokesman says subject will be on agenda when PM Sharif visits Washington next month

The United States has stressed Pakistan can do more to confront extremist groups, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.

Apprising the media regarding US National security Adviser Susan Rice’s recent visit to Pakistan, Earnest said, “There is more work the government can do to combat groups that pose a security threat to both Pakistan and the United States.”

The spokesperson said he is confident the subject also will be on the agenda when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visits the White House later this year.

On Monday, the premier’s senior aide responded to US concerns that the country remains a haven for the feared Haqqani network, saying on Monday that the militants have been weakened by an army offensive and now operate mostly out of Afghanistan.

Sartaj Aziz, national adviser for foreign affairs, spoke a day after US National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned leaders in Islamabad that attacks in Afghanistan by militants based in Pakistani threaten regional security.

US officials particularly expressed concern about the Haqqani network, which they blamed for several bloody bombings and attacks in the Afghan capital in recent weeks.

Aziz denied any implication that Pakistan is not targeting the Haqqani network in its military offensive in the border region of North Waziristan.

Further, the US urged Pakistan and India to hold dialogue in order to address the ongoing tensions between the two nations, adding that it was in the interest of the entire world for them to do so, Radio Pakistan reported.

“The US encourages the two countries to hold dialogue to reduce tensions,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark C Toner said.

Responding to a question, Toner said that the sources of regional violence to bring peace and stability to the region were assessed during US National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting with Pakistani leadership.