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Kerry, Aziz meet in London, discuss India, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and energy crisis

London (U.K.), June 14 (ANI): Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in London on Friday to discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest to the two countries.

According to officials of the two countries, both leaders discussed Pakistan’s relations with India and Afghanistan, regional integration, energy and economic issues.

“They discussed regional economic integration, as well as regional relations of Pakistan with India and Afghanistan, given changes in government leadership in both countries,” a State Department official said.

The meeting between the two leaders in London was held on the sidelines of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

“In light of the recent attacks on the Karachi Airport, Secretary Kerry reaffirmed our steadfast commitment to the people of Pakistan in their efforts to counter terrorism and build a peaceful and prosperous future,” the official said.

During the meeting, Kerry made clear that the two countries have a shared interest in building a safer and more prosperous Pakistan, the official said requesting anonymity.

They also spoke about Iraq and deep concerns about the continued gains of ISIL, the threat posed by this Islamist militant group to security in the region and the importance of supporting the Iraqi government.

Prior to the meeting, both leaders said that they were looking forward to the talks, which would focus on the way forward on issues such as Afghanistan’s ongoing transition, ways to resolve Pakistan’s energy crisis and economic challenges, besides counter-terrorism measures.

Secretary Kerry said: “National Security Advisor Aziz and I are old friends who have worked on these issues for a long time together. And obviously, Pakistan is very, very key now, has been for 70 years. But now, with the transition in Afghanistan, with the new government in India, with certain challenges that we’re both facing in terms of counterterrorism – we also have major economic issues; energy is a huge challenge in Pakistan. So, we have a lot to discuss, and particularly at this moment, I think it’s good that we have a chance to be able to meet.”

Responding to Secretary Kerry’s opening statement, Aziz said: “Well, I was here for this conference on ending sexual violence in the cases of conflict. And, when I saw Secretary Kerry was coming, so, I think, there’s a very good chance to meet again and review all the issues that you mentioned.”

“And also, we had the Strategic Dialogue with the U.S. in March, and it’s sort of always useful to follow up to see what progress has been made, what more needs to be done. And, so lots of things are happening in our region. So, this is a very good chance and I’m grateful for this opportunity,” he added. (ANI)