Islamabad: A delegation of bipartisan US senators on Monday met Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and "appreciated" Pakistan's contributions in the fight against terrorism, underlining the need to forge closer bilateral cooperation in confronting peace and security challenges in the region.
The five-member delegation led by Senator John McCain visited Pakistan days after the US blacklisted Syed Salahuddin, the chief of Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, as a "global terrorist".
The US' decision is a severe blow to Pakistan which has been projecting 71-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader as a "freedom fighter".
McCain, thanking Aziz on behalf of the delegation that included senators Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren and David Perdue "appreciated the contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism," the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.
"He said that continued engagement with Pakistan, a close friend and ally of the US, was important,” it said. The Senators agreed with the need for the US and Pakistan to forge closer cooperation in confronting the peace and security challenges in the region and beyond, the statement said.
Welcoming the US Senators, Aziz underlined the importance of regular high-level contacts and appreciated McCain, Graham and Whitehouse for their continued engagement and regular visits to Pakistan to promote understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
Aziz underscored the significance of the long-standing cooperation between the two countries and the need to make this partnership diverse and multidimensional.
"The strategic partnership between Pakistan and the US is critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond," he said. Aziz also apprised the US Senate delegation about Pakistan's "success" in combating terrorism and said that the "terrorist networks have been dismantled, their sanctuaries eliminated under the overarching National Action Plan."
Aziz said Pakistan remained committed to support efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
"Pakistan looked forward to constructive engagement with the US on all efforts and initiatives that would lead to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan," he said.
He said that Pakistan was also ready to strengthen and deepen its partnership with the US to counter the new and emerging terrorism threats including the expanding footprint of Islamic State in the region.
In the meeting, he also raised concern over the alleged "human rights violations" in Kashmir and "international community’s silence" on the issue. He stressed that Pakistan "firmly" believed in the "legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and the peaceful struggle of the Kashmiri people."
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Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 10:10:08 IST