According to a statement issued by the US Department of Defence, quoting Pentagon, Mattis on Friday embarked on a five-day trip to Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait.
Mattis is scheduled to meet with leaders in each nation “to re-affirm the enduring US commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia,” said Pentagon in the statement.
He will begin his engagements with a visit to Egypt on December 2 and then travel to Jordan on December 3. Mattis will then visit Pakistan on December 4 and then conclude his trip with a visit to Kuwait December 5
During his visit to Pakistan, the US secretary of defence will meet with Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to the statement, and seek support for defeating militants.
US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that they believe exploit safe haven on Pakistani soil to launch attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.
In August, Trump outlined a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants. He accused Pakistan of harbouring “agents of chaos” and providing safe havens to militant groups waging an insurgency against a US-backed government in Kabul. Pakistan has vehemently denied all such claims.
US Defence Secretary says will try to work with Pakistan ‘one more time’
The top US general in Afghanistan General John Nicholson also said on November 28 that he had not seen a change in Pakistan’s support for militants so far, despite President Donald Trump taking a tougher line against Islamabad.
Mattis had said in October 2017, the US would try “one more time” to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan before President Donald Trump would turn to options to address Islamabad’s alleged support for militant groups.