Kerry’s visit date not announced by US

Published January 7, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry.  — AP/file
US Secretary of State John Kerry. — AP/file

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Tuesday announced Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to South Asia next week but did not reveal his schedule for Pakistan due to security reasons.

A statement released by his office late Tuesday said Secretary Kerry would travel to Ahmedabad, India, on Jan 10 to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit to be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Secretary Kerry may travel to additional countries, but any other stops would be announced separately,” the statement said.

Mr Kerry is expected to travel to Islamabad either before or after the Ahmedabad conference but the US administration does not release schedules of such visits to Pakistan for security reasons.

The country is embroiled in a bloody war with terrorists, which has already killed tens of thousands of people, including soldiers. US officials fear that publicly announcing the schedule could increase security risks for the visiting dignitaries.

Meanwhile, reports in the US media pointed out that a dispute over a reported $500 million US aid package to Pakistan and tensions on India-Pakistan border have overshadowed the secretary’s visit to South Asia.

The media noted that officials in New Delhi were upset with US efforts to maintain close relations with both India and Pakistan.

Pakistan announced last week that the US ambassador had said a request had been made to Congress for a $532 million aid payment under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman act. Washington denied that on Monday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said no request had been made to US Congress for a payment under the act, which requires Pakistan to cease support for extremist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

However, she said other funds were available to Pakistan.

In 2009, under Mr Kerry, then a senator c-authored act for providing an annual $1.5 billion to Pakistan, and signed a waiver in 2013 to release the funds to Islamabad.

Funding for 2014, the last year of the four-year plan, has not yet been released, Ms Psaki said.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2015

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