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Pakistan to help US bring Taliban to negotiating table

Tariq Ullah Wardak

ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has said that in a number of meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa he talked about the new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between two countries across a broad spectrum – economic, business, and commercial, the work that we all know that we need to do to try and develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, which benefits certainly Afghanistan but also the United States and Pakistan.”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 while talking to media upon his arrival at PAF Nur Khan Air Base.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said that his job was to help support the Secretary as he – as he sought to reset the relationship.  When we talked to General Bajwa on the military-to-military level, we agreed that – we listened to the prime minister very carefully, we listened to the Secretary very carefully.  Their objectives were very consistent between the Secretary and the prime minister, and General Bajwa and I agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship to support the Secretary and the prime minister, and more importantly, President Trump’s South Asia strategy.

When asked if he get any firm commitments from the Pakistanis that would potentially merit the resumption of military security assistance, Secretary Pompeo said 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. Replying to another question General Dunford said We don’t – we don’t have any reason to indicate that our cooperation in keeping the GLOCs open is going to change.  That’s —

Secretary Pompeo also said that We made clear to them that – and they agreed – it’s time for us to begin to deliver on our joint commitments, right.  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.  That was the focus of the gathering.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan and the United States have different stance on several matters.

Addressing a press conference after the talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, he said the US had not made demand for ‘Do More’. “We got the impression that the US policy has been reviewed. We presented the Pakistani stance with self-respect, tolerance and responsibility,” he said. The foreign minister said that he would make his first visit to Afghanistan. “The talks with the US were held in positive and congenial environment. Afghanistan will also benefit if Pakistan makes progress. Our future is linked to Afghanistan. We want to live in peace,” he maintained. In the context of Afghanistan, the foreign minister highlighted the latest positive developments on Pakistan-Afghanistan front, including operationalization of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The two sides agreed that present conditions in Afghanistan were conducive to intensifying efforts for a political settlement. They underscored the need for the Taliban to seize the opportunity for talks in response to President Ghani’s offer for an unconditional dialogue.

 

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