Pompeo discusses opportunity to “reset” bilateral ties with Pak leadership

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed further strengthening of civil institutions during his meetings with Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership, and underscored areas of shared interest, such as the expansion of two-way trade and commercial ties, the US State Department spokesperson has said.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of the Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad, spokesperson Heather Nauert said that Secretary Pompeo talked about the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the opportunity to reset the relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen.Joseph F.Dunford accompanied him on the visit.

The US officials held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Spokesperson Nauert said that Secretary Pompeo congratulated the Prime Minister on the formation of his government and welcomed the further strengthening of civilian institutions.

“Secretary Pompeo also highlighted the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship, and underscored areas of shared interest”.

Speaking to reporters before his departure, Secretary Pompeo said they discussed the opportunity to reset the bilateral relationship across a broad spectrum, including economic, business and commercial and the work the two sides need to do to try and develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, which also benefits Pakistan and the United States.

“And I’m hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward, ” he said according to a transcript of his press talk released by the US State Department in Washington.

Replying to a question, Secretary Pompeo said that the two sides still got a “long way to go” but noted that despite strains in bilateral ties, the two countries continued to have military to military relationship and have worked on lots of projects that were important together.

“So we’ve still got a long way to go, lots more discussion to be had, but the relationship military to military is one that has remained in a place where some of the other relationships haven’t, frankly.They’ve still continued to have relationships, worked on lots of projects that are important together, and I hope we can use that as one of the foundational elements as well, ” he said.

To another question, he said that both sides agreed that it was time for both sides to begin to deliver on joint commitments.“So we’ve had lots of times where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those.

“And so there was broad agreement between myself and Foreign Minister Qureshi, as well as with the prime minister, that we need to begin to do things that will begin to actually, on the ground, deliver outcomes so that we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries, ” he added.

Gen.Dunford, in his remarks to reporters, said his job on the visit was to help support the Secretary as he sought to reset the relationship.

He said that he and General Bajwa “agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship to support the Secretary and the Prime Minister, and more important, President Trump’s South Asia strategy”.