ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that his meeting with Secretary Tillerson was an important interaction after President Trump announced US South Asia strategy on August 21.

At his interaction with US and foreign media at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington late Thursday night, he told the media that after the announcement of this South Asia strategy, the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US has taken a new turn.

"If on one hand the US has its concerns about the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan seeks recognition of its legitimate security concerns in the region. We are genuinely concerned with regard to the role accorded in the strategy to India in general and its efforts, geared to destabilisation in Balochistan, in particular."

He informed that he was visiting Washington DC at the invitation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with whom he had a most cordial and useful meeting. "My visit is essentially in follow-up to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of UNGA on September 19, 2017."

Pakistan greatly values its relationship with the US in seven-decade long history of result-oriented cooperation, he said in his opening remarks. "We want to build a relationship founded on mutual respect. We firmly believe that through consistent, structured and constructive engagement, at political and diplomatic levels, both the countries can continue to work together for the common goal of peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia."

"We also see enormous investment and business opportunities in Pakistan for corporate America, particularly after Pakistan's remarkable successes in war against terror and significant reduction in terrorist incidents in the country, he said.

However, he added, "Pakistan believes that unless there is stability in Afghanistan, the dividends of peace in the region would continue to elude us." To achieve that goal both the US and Pakistan need to work closely, he stressed.

"On our part, we have completely wiped out all the hideouts used by terrorists and anti-state elements. However, this is an ongoing process with continuing intelligence-based operations by law enforcement agencies across the country," he added.

"We have offered candid cooperation to Afghanistan during the recent visit of the army chief and the foreign secretary to Kabul where they had successful and productive meetings with President Ashraf Ghani, the CEO Abdullah and others in the Afghan hierarchy," he said.

Pakistan is extremely concerned about safe havens of terrorists who are mostly operating from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan which are more than 40 percent of the total area of the country, he added.

Substantiating his plea, he said a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months have been traced back to these elements operating from these bases in Afghanistan.

"I would like to reiterate that Pakistan will continue to play its positive role in bringing peace to the region through measures agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders. We believe that a political approach characterised by an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process will yield durable peace in the interest of Afghanistan and the broader region."

He said, "In our renewed efforts towards establishing regional peace, we hope that the international media, particularly the US media will play a positive role and reflect Pakistan's changing realities in its reporting."

He also invited the media luminaries gathered there to visit Pakistan with a view to acquiring a first-hand experience of the fast changing reality in the country.

Asif meets US NSA HR McMaster

The Pakistani foreign minister also met US Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Lt General McMaster at the White House.

According to a message received here Friday from Washington DC, the two leaders discussed the bilateral relationship as well as ways in which the two countries could promote mutually beneficial cooperation.

They also discussed regional situation particularly Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister briefed NSA about Pakistan's perspective on the US strategy.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif stressed the importance that Pakistan attaches to peace in Afghanistan and emphasized the need to work together for regional peace and stability.