The visit by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CJCSC General Joseph F. Dunford was welcome as it showed that both sides were keen to resolve differences through talks. Another positive development was that both the civilian and military leadership interacted jointly with the US delegation instead of meeting it separately. Pompeo had already gone public over what the US wanted from Pakistan. What position Pakistan took about the points raised by the Secretary of State is however known only to those who participated in the meeting. That there was neither a joint press conference nor a joint statement indicated that there was little convergence of views worth making public.
The first meeting took place between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister Qureshi. Both sides underscored the need to ‘reset US-Pak bilateral ties’ on the basis of mutual respect and trust.
The delegation level talks were led by PM Imran Khan on one side and Pompeo on the other. During the little time available to them both delegations could only present summaries of their views on Pak-US relations and the regional and international situation. It was here that issues considered crucial by the two delegations were raised with each side putting forth precisely what it expected from the other. Imran Khan reportedly maintained that the interests of both the countries had to be given due consideration.
Mike Pompeo had already put forward his country’s position in his talk to the media on board the flight from Washington. He emphasised that with a new Prime Minister committed to peace in Afghanistan, he was hoping that both sides would turn the page and begin to make progress provided expectations were fulfilled. Pakistan, he said, still hadn’t done enough against terror groups to merit the resumption of U.S. security assistance. That was the answer to FM Qureshi’s earlier statement regarding the stoppage of CSF.
Pompeo can now convey to President Trump his assessment of what the new Pakistan leadership and the military establishment want from the US. He has invited Foreign Minister Qureshi to Washington. It still remains to be seen if the two countries can devise a mutually acceptable position.
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