WASHINGTON - Pakistan is looking forward to working closely with the incoming US administration, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani said, a week ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Speaking to mainstream American journalists at a New Year luncheon hosted by the Pak Embassy, Jilani said the people who had been designated in the Trump administration knew Pakistan very well and there had been a better realisation of the problems Islamabad was facing in the region.

“Moreover, there was a convergence of interests between the two countries on a number of issues likely to strengthen the bilateral relations in future,” he added.

But apart from the much-talked phone call made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Trump, there have been no reports about any contacts between Pakistani officials and Trump’s transition team. Even Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi who came to the United States last month had no meeting with anyone in the Trump team, although he did have talks with several officials of the outgoing Obama administration. Ambassador Jilani said Pakistan had a very comprehensive and meaningful discussion with the outgoing Obama administration and hopefully these ties would be promoted under the new administration.

He said Pakistan had successfully launched a campaign of historical proportion to address the menace of terrorism. He expressed the hope that Pak-US cooperation would be further strengthened in the fight against terrorism by revisiting sale of F-16s and Coalition Support Fund issues. The ambassador said over the last few years terrorist incidents in Pakistan had reduced approximately by 70 percent with a positive impact on the economy.

He highlighted the surge in the number of visitors from the US to Pakistan, which symbolised their renewed interest in the country.

Jilani said Pakistan had a firm belief in having a closer cooperation in the region. He contended the emergence of extremist and violent organizations was the outcome of instability and violence all over the world.

While responding to a question, Jilani reiterated Pakistan had not seen any organised presence of ISIS in the country. However, it was concerned about the growing influence of ISIS in Afghanistan.

On Indus Water Treaty, the envoy said Pakistan had requested the World Bank to play the role of an administrator in terms of the legal and technical objections raised by Islamabad on Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects in India. He reiterated Pakistan would like to engage in a sustained, meaningful dialogue with India in order to resolve all the outstanding issues peacefully.

Pakistan believed the mandate of the neutral expert was limited. The technical expert would tend to focus only on technical aspects whereas legal aspects would not be considered, Jilani asserted.

PAKISTAN MADE ‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’ MOVES RISKING NUCLEAR WAR: BIDEN

Agencies add: US Vice President Joe Biden yesterday alleged Pakistan, Russia, North Korea and others had made “counterproductive” moves, heightening the risk that nuclear weapons could be used in a regional conflict.

“North Korea, Russia, Pakistan and others have made counterproductive moves which increase the risk that nuclear weapons could be used in a regional conflict in Europe, South Asia or East Asia,” Biden said in his remarks on nuclear security.

Working with the Congress, the next administration will have to counter these dangers and continue, leading the global consensus to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our world, Biden said a week before the end of eight years of the Obama administration.

Nuclear weapons, the proliferation of this deadly knowledge to more nations and the possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials remain among the most pressing security challenges, he said.

“Even one nuclear bomb can still cause hideous damage. That’s why, reducing the threat of a nuclear attack has been a chief national security priority of the Obama administration since the moment the President and I took office eight years ago,” he said, adding the international community was now focusing on preventing nuclear terrorism.

“We know that terrorists have both the capacity and the goal of transforming nuclear materials into weapons to sow havoc. And we know that no nation acting alone can defeat this threat,” he said.

“We’ve not only stepped up the physical protection of facilities where nuclear materials are stored, we’ve greatly improved our ability to detect and seize unregulated nuclear and radiological materials being smuggled in secret,” he affirmed.