ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Pakistan late on Wednesday on an unannounced visit for talks with the nuclear armed country’s new government on ways to tame insurgents and stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.
Kerry will try to put a fresh focus on a relationship severely strained by U.S. drone strikes which Pakistan says breach its sovereignty, and the raid by U.S. special forces which killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in 2011.
“Our issues that we will discuss with the Pakistanis are counterterrorism, cross-border militancy, the economic agenda and how we can continue to partner in terms of promoting a secure and stable Afghanistan,” a senior U.S. official told reporters travelling with Kerry.
It is Kerry’s first visit to Pakistan as Secretary of State although he has visited the country in other capacities before.
Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was sworn in more than a month ago after an election victory hailed by President Barack Obama as a “significant milestone in Pakistan’s democratic process”.
The senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sharif had taken “pretty remarkable” steps in the short time since assuming power to address domestic economic problems such as power shortages.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would also visit Britain on his way back to the United States at the end of the week.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)