(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump's first tweet of 2018 was aimed at Pakistan, and it has triggered angry protests in parts of the country.
Trump wrote on January 1: "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called a meeting of top government officials on Tuesday to discuss President Trump's apparent change of tone regarding Pakistan.
Earlier this month, James Mattis made his first trip to Pakistan as U.S. defense secretary.
In his meetings with Abbasi and other Pakistan leaders, Mattis "reiterated that Pakistan must redouble its efforts to confront militants and terrorists operating within the country," the Defense Department said.
Pakistan continues to provide safe haven to terrorist groups allied with the Taliban.
The New York Times reported last week that the Trump administration is considering whether to withhold distribution of some $255 million in aid to Pakistan, making the money conditional on Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts.
In a report to Congress last month, the Defense Department called for "fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe-havens" along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
According to that report:
The Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship remains tenuous and leaders from each country have accused the other of harboring terrorists and allowing the planning of attacks from their soil. The United States continues to encourage both countries to work together to solve common problems, such as border security, but deep-rooted mistrust remains a significant barrier to progress.
Although Pakistani military operations have disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups -- such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network -- retains freedom of movement in Pakistan. The United States continues to convey to all levels of Pakistani leadership the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups.
Increased collaboration between Afghanistan and Pakistan is critical to maintaining pressure on militant and terrorist groups and for meeting the enduring security requirements on both sides of the shared border.