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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the Trump administration is willing to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorism but Islamabad must also demonstrate its desire to do so.

“Pakistan must contribute by combating terrorist groups on its own soil,” Mr Tillerson wrote in a year-ender on US diplomacy published in The New York Times on Thursday.

“We are prepared to partner with Pakistan to defeat terrorist organisations seeking safe havens, but Pakistan must demonstrate its desire to partner with us,” he added.

Mr Tillerson wrote that “a commitment to stopping Islamist terrorism and extremism” had motivated the administration’s decision to adopt a new South Asia strategy, which focused on Afghanistan. “That country cannot become a safe haven for terrorists, as it was in the days before the Sept 11 attacks,” wrote the top US diplomat while underlining major achievements of US diplomacy in 2017.

In the editorial-page article — titled “I’m proud of our diplomacy”, Mr Tillerson acknowledged that the US faced ‘immense challenges in 2017 in its dealings with North Korea, China and Russia, and in its efforts to defeat international terrorism.

He also highlighted the Trump administration’s disagreement with the nuclear deal with Iran signed by the Obama administration.

“The flawed Iran nuclear deal is no longer the focal point of our policy toward Iran. We are now confronting the totality of Iranian threats,” he wrote.

He explained that part of the Trump administration’s Iran strategy entailed rebuilding alliances with US partners in the Middle East, noting that in November the administration helped re-establish diplomatic ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“We will continue to work with our allies and with Congress to explore options for addressing the nuclear deal’s many flaws, while building a like-minded effort to punish Iran for its violations of ballistic missile commitments and its destabilising activities in the region,” Mr Tillerson wrote.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2017