US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he was hopeful about “the opportunity to reset” the strained relationship between the US and Pakistan under the leadership of new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum, economic, business, commercial, the work that we all know that we need to do to try to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan that benefits certainly Afghanistan, but also the United States and Pakistan,” Pompeo told reporters in Islamabad, Pakistan. “I’m hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward,” he added.
The Secretary of State said Tuesday that nearly $300 million in security-related funding to Pakistan that the US suspended in January could be back on the table if the White House believes Pakistan is making sufficient progress in the fight against terrorist groups. On Wednesday, Pompeo suggested that he had not received firm enough commitments yet to warrant re-establishing that aid.
“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,” he said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Wednesday that his meeting with Pompeo “created a fresh start for our bilateral relationship.” He said Pakistan “understands the concerns of the USA,” which “does not want to have a longer footprint in Afghanistan.” Qureshi also stressed the importance of having a “candid conversation” with the US that will “be heard and respected.”
‘Lies & deceit’
The Trump administration has claimed Islamabad is granting safe haven to militants who are waging a 17-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan — a charge Pakistan denies. Announcing the initial suspension of funds in January, President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of “lies & deceit.”
The Trump administration and the President himself have blasted Pakistan for giving safe haven to militants fighting in neighboring in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies. In January, Trump railed against Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to act against militant groups like the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.
“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,” Trump tweeted in January. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has also said that Pakistan plays a “double game” on terrorism, working with Washington while also sheltering terrorist groups that attack American troops in Afghanistan.
Pompeo travels to New Delhi after his stop in Pakistan.