Pakistan says influence with Afghan Taliban has waned

Foreign minister says U.S. drone strike a factor

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WASHINGTON — Pakistan said Thursday its influence over the Taliban has diminished since a U.S. drone strike killed the militant group’s leader last year, derailing talks aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan wants peace in the neighboring country, and still has some influence over the militant group, “but it’s not as much as it used to be.”

Pakistan’s top diplomat was making his first visit to Washington since President Donald Trump laid out his strategy for ending the 16-year war in Afghanistan. The U.S. has long accused Islamabad of harboring Afghan Taliban, and Trump has demanded that Pakistan eliminate militant sanctuaries.

Asif has met with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who described Pakistan as a partner of the U.S. and critical to the long-term stability of the region.

Asif said Pakistan was willing to cooperate fully with the Trump administration, but he had some pointed words for Washington. He insisted Pakistan has wiped out militant hideouts on its soil with little help from the U.S., which has restricted military assistance to Pakistan, and it can’t be blamed for the violence in Afghanistan.