The top US official overseeing South Asia diplomacy will visit Islamabad this week following US President Donald Trump’s stern warning to Pakistan against harbouring terrorists. Alice Wells, who is the Acting Assistant Secretary of State in-charge of South and Central Asia, will meet Pakistani officials during her visit, the State Department announced on Saturday.
She will be the first high-level official to visit Pakistan after Trump’s speech last week, issuing to Islamabad the bluntest warning so far by a US President that “it has much to lose by continuing to harbour terrorists”. This is the second trip to Islamabad this month by Wells, who is also the Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
During her first visit Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad. She also visited New Delhi during that trip, although she is skipping India this time. Wells will visit Dhaka and Colombo during the journey starting on Monday.
On Friday, she is scheduled to speak at the Indian Ocean Conference in Colombo. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is the Vice-Chair of the organising committee of the conference. According to the meeting’s brochure, Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar have been invited to speak at the conference.
Their participation could facilitate meeting with Wells on the sidelines. Trump has asked for India’s help in Afghanistan and said that “critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India”. Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and several leaders and officials from the Indian Ocean region will attend the conference organised by the India Foundation.