US defence secretary postpones trip to Pakistan, India amid Coronovirus

0
1
Dr. Mark Esper, Acting Secretary of Defense, poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., June 20, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

WASHINGTON:     US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has postponed his upcoming trip to Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan in order to help manage the Department of Defense’s coronavirus response, a department spokeswoman said.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Secretary of Defense has decided to postpone his travel,” Department of Defense spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement, adding that the trip will occur at ‘a later date’.
Esper was expected to visit Pakistan later this month, as relations between Islamabad and Washington have seen significant improvement after former played a significant role in brokering the landmark US-Taliban deal last month. Afghanistan would have certainly dominated the discussions during the visit as the peace process has entered a crucial phase following the signing of the deal.
There was no official confirmation either from Pakistan or the US of the visit, however, reports said the secretary’s visit was planned in the third week of March. On Tuesday, two more cases of novel coronavirus emerged from Sindh, pushing the tally to 15 in the province and 18 in Pakistan, the Sindh Health Department said.