Mattis departs for five-day Middle East trip

James Mattis

Mr. Mattis would reach Pakistan on December 4, the second such trip after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his South Asia strategy on August 21.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday that counterterrorism cooperation with Egypt is growing, and the U.S. remains committed to strong ties with Cairo, according to Voanews website.

WASHINGTON: U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis would be arriving in Pakistan on Monday as part of his five-day trip to the Middle East, the Pentagon said in a statement.

He will begin his engagements with a visit to Egypt on December 2 and then travel to Jordan on December 3.

United States officials have always 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.

Last month, United States Central Command (Centcom) Commander Gen Joseph Votel visited Pakistan, where he held a series of meetings with Pakistani civil and military leadership.

Analysts suggest the U.S. Defense Secretary is likely to repeat the American demand from Pakistan to take action against the Haqqani network, a militant group the U.S. claims still hiding in the Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border and planning on Afghan and U.S forces. Trump while announcing the strategy had criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists.

In October, Mattis had said the USA would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan before taking "whatever steps are necessary" to address its alleged support for the militants.

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