ISLAMABAD - US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived on Monday on a two-day visit expressed his country’s resolve to continue supporting Pakistan in effectively combating terrorism and tackling other challenges.

John Kerry, regarded as Pakistan’s friend, met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif soon after arrival and co-chaired the first round of Pak-US ministerial level strategic dialogue with Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. Aziz earlier received Kerry on his arrival at the Islamabad international airport.

At his meeting with the prime minister, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the resolve to continue supporting Pakistan in tackling major challenges, including terrorism and extremism.

Extending condolences of the US government on the Peshawar incident, Kerry said terrorists were the common enemy of the two countries.

Nawaz said the United States was a vital component of Pakistan’s foreign policy and appreciated President Obama’s message of friendship and cooperation in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack.

Nawaz Sharif focused on greater market access for Pakistani products and US investment in Pakistan. He also appreciated US support for Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha dam projects.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and the United Sates, under Pak-US Strategic Dialogue, discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest. Pakistan delegation was led by Sartaj Aziz and US side by John Kerry.

The ministerial-level meeting, the second since the revitalised strategic dialogue, was announced during Secretary Kerry’s August 2013 visit to Pakistan, serves to advance shared interests in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan and acknowledge the US-Pakistan partnership’s role in promoting regional and international security.

Well-placed diplomatic sources told The Nation that Pakistan conveyed its concern about the tension over LoC and Working Boundary, which Islamabad believes is India’s deliberate attempt to distract Pakistan from its ongoing military operations against militants on the Pak-Afghan border.

Islamabad also sought the US technical assistance and training of Pakistan’s armed forces in combating terrorism and extremism.

Sources privy to the meetings said the US secretary of state asked Islamabad for more sustained efforts to constrain the ability of the terrorist groups threatening regional stability and the US interests.

Kerry also discussed ways to improve Afghan-Pakistan ties as well as reconciliation efforts with Taliban militants in each country.

John Kerry was joined by General Lloyd Austin. Lloyd Austin earlier held spate meetings with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and the defence secretary. Before leaving Islamabad, John Kerry is expected to meet Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif today (Tuesday).

US-Pakistan Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Working Group also offered Islamabad help for implementation of the National Action Plan. The offer was made during a meeting of the working group, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

It was attended by US Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tina Kaidanow, Interior Secretary Shahid Khan and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, according to a press release issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad.

The group discussed various US-Pakistan areas of cooperation, including counterterrorism, rule of law, anti-narcotics and border management. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman, National Security Council Senior Director Jeff Eggers, Ambassador Richard Olson and other senior US officials also participated in the working group meeting.

The US and Pakistani delegations explored ways to intensify the war on terrorism and violent extremism. The Pakistani officials outlined for the US delegation the provisions of the recently created National Action Plan on terrorism.

Ambassador Kaidanow highlighted the areas in which US assistance can be used to support Pakistan’s effective implementation of the plan. The group also discussed collaborative means to combat terrorist financing and disrupt the illicit networks that supply components for the creation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Pakistan and the region.

Ambassador Kaidanow asserted, “The United States stands by Islamabad against the violence and criminality of the groups that attack innocent schoolchildren, target civilians and law-enforcement personnel, and undermine the stability and prosperity of Pakistan.”

Ambassador Kaidanow and Interior Secretary Khan concluded by agreeing to further intensive discussions on law enforcement and counterterrorism throughout 2015. The US affirmed continued US support and assistance to strengthen the capacity of civilian agencies involved in counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan.

The meeting was held hours before the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry here on a two-day visit, primarily to participate in the strategic dialogue between the two countries.

John Kerry will also visit Army Public School in Peshawar, the scene of a Taliban massacre, a media report said.

Our Special Correspondent adds from Washington: Underscoring the importance of India-Pakistan ties for South Asian peace, the United States said it was “extremely concerned” by violence along the two countries’ working boundary and the Line of Control in Kashmir and that John Kerry would discuss the regional environment with Pakistani leaders during his visit for bilateral strategic dialogue.

“We’ve been extremely concerned by reports of violence along the working boundary and Line of Control,” a senior State Department official said, according to a transcript of the background conference call with reporters, released upon Kerry’s arrival in Islamabad.

“The secretary’s visit is not intended to advance any new initiatives in this regard between India and Pakistan, but the relationship is an extremely important one to peace, stability, and security of South Asia, and as has long been the case, the US believes India and Pakistan, not to mention the region, stand to benefit from practical cooperation and encourage both sides to resume dialogue aimed at reducing tensions.”

Five bilateral working groups under the Strategic Dialogue represent the full range of the relationship: economic and finance, law enforcement and counterterrorism, energy, defence and strategic stability and non-proliferation.