Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has claimed that an impasse in Pakistan-US relations has been broken during talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Pakistan on Wednesday.
Pompeo, along with Chairman US Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford and other senior officials, held talks with Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Briefing the media following the high-profile visit, Qureshi said the US administration has reviewed its policy in Afghanistan and now it is amenable to talks with the Taliban in an effort to end the 16-year-old conflict in the battered country.
The minister said Pomepo’s visit concluded positively as the top US diplomat invited him to visit Washington.
“It was a good meeting with similar results … we met, listened, understood, talked and then decided on a next meeting,” he added.
“They have agreed that the blame and shame game is not good as it only vitiates the atmosphere. Yes, we have different issues and we will be thinking differently but our objectives are same. I feel that today’s meeting has set the stage to reset the environment for bilateral relations,” the foreign minister said.
However, the United States said that Secretary Pompeo conveyed the need for Pakistan to take ‘sustained and decisive measures’ against terrorists and militants threatening regional peace and stability in all his meetings with civil and military leadership of Pakistan.
He emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, said a statement issued by the US state department soon after the conclusion of the high-profile visit.
Qureshi, in today’s media briefing, said he did not discuss the recent US decision to cancel reimbursement of $300 million in Coalition Support Fund to Pakistan. “Our relations are not limited to trade and barter,” he added.
He said that contrary to the media’s claim that Washington would press Islamabad to do more in the fight against terror, the US delegation conveyed a “willingness to move forward”.
Qureshi said he ‘bravely’ presented Pakistan’s stance, during the interaction. “From the body language you should have gauged that the meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere … Pompeo has invited me to visit Washington.”
Pompeo and Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed Afghan peace process and other matters of mutual interest when they met in Islamabad earlier today.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also attended the meeting.
Pompeo also held a delegation level meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi at the Foreign Office earlier in the day.
The two sides discussed bilateral, regional and international issues, FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in Tweet. “FM Qureshi underscores the need to reset bilateral ties on basis of mutual trust and respect. Safeguarding Pakistan’s national interests will remain supreme priority,” he added.
The US secretary of state later left for New Delhi for another key visit.
On Tuesday, Pompeo said he was hoping to reset ties with Pakistan ahead of the trip. He also announced that Zalmay Khalilzad, a high-profile former US ambassador,would lead peace efforts in Afghanistan.
Pompeo’s conciliatory remarks toward the South Asian state come days after Washington confirmed plans to cancel $300 million in military aid over Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of American strategy in the region.
“So first stop – Pakistan. New leader there, wanted to get out there at the beginning of his time in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries,” he said.
“There are lot of challenges between our two nations for sure but we’re hopeful that with the new leadership that we can find common ground and we can begin to work on some of our shared problems together,” added Pompeo.
“Look, I think there is a new government this time, most of this took place long before the prime minister was in power and I hope we can turn the page and begin to make progress. But there are real expectations,” he said.
“I’m hopeful we can convince them to provide that assistance,” he continued, adding that in his conversations with Imran, they had agreed that peace in Afghanistan was a “shared goal.” Pompeo also held out the possibility the military aid could be restored under the right circumstances.
“We were providing these resources when it made sense for the United States because the partnership was in a place where the actions of our two countries made sense to do that,” he said. “If that arises again, I’m confident we’ll present to the president the rationale for that.”
Earlier last week, FM Qureshi avoided a knee-jerk reaction to the Pentagon suspension of the Coalition Support Fund. He said the amount was not aid, but a reimbursements of expenses incurred in the fight against terrorism. The minister also said that US-Pak communication was nearing complete breakdown during the last government’s tenure.