Pompeo Meets New Pakistan Premier

Pompeo Meets New Pakistan Premier Pompeo Meets New Pakistan Premier

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Wednesday, in the first high-level US visit to the new government, looking to “reset” relations strained over the war in Afghanistan.

Tensions between the uneasy allies were raised ahead of Wednesday’s visit when the Pentagon confirmed it had made a final decision to cancel $300 million in military aid to Pakistan, Reuters reported.

Pompeo is next due to visit India, Pakistan’s neighbor and bitter foe, where he is expected to pile pressure on New Delhi over its purchases of Iranian oil and Russian missile systems in talks with senior Indian officials.

With Pakistan’s Khan taking office in August, Pompeo said on the way to the nuclear-armed nation that he wanted “to get out there at the beginning of his time in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries.”

On the plane from the United States, Pompeo told reporters, “There are a 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.”

In Islamabad, Pompeo also met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and is expected to meet the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The meetings come against a backdrop of tense ties and US military aid cuts over Islamabad’s alleged reluctance to crack down on militants sheltering on its territory.

“Foreign Minister Qureshi underscores the need to reset bilateral ties on the basis of mutual trust and respect,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Twitter, posting a picture of the meeting between Pompeo and Qureshi.

Faisal said talks on “bilateral, regional and international issues” were held.

 Frayed Ties

Ties between uneasy allies United States and Pakistan have frayed in recent years, with Washington accusing Islamabad of turning a blind eye to, or helping, Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so.

Pompeo landed in Islamabad around 1 p.m. (0800 GMT), minutes after the plane carrying US Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ahead of the talks, Dunford said US President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy set clear expectations for Pakistan, including help to drive the Taliban to a peace process in neighboring Afghanistan.

“Our bilateral relationship moving forward is very much going to be informed by the degree of cooperation we see from Pakistan in doing that,” Dunford told reporters.

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