US general departs for Pakistan, India to bolster Afghanistan strategy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford departed the U.S. on Sunday for a week-long trip focused on shoring up Afghanistan’s new strategy by pressing key neighbors Pakistan and India to do more to help stabilize the country.

Dunford will first visit Pakistan, alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to meet with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. U.S. and Pakistani tensions have escalated over the last year as the Trump administration withheld millions of dollars in military aid over long-standing frustration with Pakistan that it has not taken a more aggressive stand against Taliban and Haqqani network militants who coordinate attacks on Afghanistan from within Pakistan.

Last week the U.S. confirmed it would hold up an additional $300 million in aid to Pakistan, which Qureshi told Reuters on Sunday would be brought up at the meeting.

Previous rounds of withheld funds have impacted U.S. foreign military sales to Pakistan, including the transfer of up to 16 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters from Amarillo, Texas-based Bell.