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Rice makes surprise visit to Pakistan on peace mission

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Amid rising tensions and firing on the Line of Control, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice is in Islamabad for a day-long visit to discuss “regional security issues”, sources in Islamabad said.

Ms. Rice, who was on a scheduled visit to China on Saturday, had not announced the Pakistan stopover before leaving for Washington, giving rise to speculation that she will discuss the India-Pakistan situation, a week after talks between the NSAs were called off.

Ms. Rice is also expected to discuss the U.S.’ decision to hold military funding over Pakistan’s lack of action against the Haqqani network, the suspended talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the U.S. in September. According to officials in Pakistan, Ms. Rice will meet Mr. Sharif, NSA Sartaj Aziz and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif during what one Pakistani national TV website called an “emergency visit.”

At least 9 civilians, including 3 Indians and 6 Pakistanis, and several people have been injured in the latest escalation of violence on Friday that India blames Pakistan for, while Pakistani Defence Minister Khwaja Asif accused India of conducting a “limited war” on the LoC. The deaths were the single largest toll for a day of LoC tensions since 2013. The U.S. has expressed its disappointment over the cancellation of NSA talks and the increase in the tensions in the past few weeks.

Ms. Rice’s visit also comes a day after U.S. Under Secretary of State Nisha Biswal was in Delhi for talks ahead of the coming Indo-U.S. Commercial and Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington from September 21 to 23. During her interactions with MEA officials, Ms. Biswal is understood to have discussed the cancellation of talks and the tensions as well.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to lead the C&SD talks ahead of PM Modi’s visit to New York to attend the UNGA special session.

While Mr. Modi and President Obama are expected to meet on the sidelines of a peacekeeping conference on September 28th, officials told The Hindu a structured bilateral meeting is yet to be scheduled.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:02:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rice-makes-surprise-visit-to-pakistan-on-peace-mission/article7594863.ece

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