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September 05,2018

Pakistan’s interests will remain supreme, Qureshi tells Pompeo

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during which the visiting delegation was conveyed that safeguarding national interests will remain supreme priority of the new government.

Discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues took place between Pakistan and the US, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement adding that the FM underscored the need to reset bilateral ties on basis of mutual trust and respect.

Pompeo landed in Pakistan on Wednesday for a brief visit on his whistle-stop tour of the region, with the war in Afghanistan and the issue of militants once again set to dominate discussions with Pakistan.

Pompeo is next due to visit India, the main stop of his South Asia tour, 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.

In Pakistan, Pompeo will meet new premier Imran Khan and the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, against a backdrop of tense ties and US military aid cuts over Islamabad’s alleged reluctance to crack down on militants.

In July, Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for the IMF to give money to Pakistan that would then be used to pay off Chinese loans, comments that further rattled Islamabad.

Pompeo and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will meet their Indian counterparts in New Delhi on Thursday, and are expected to finalize defense pacts that could bring their militaries closer amid China’s rising influence.

The talks come as U.S. hostility rises towards India’s traditional allies Iran and Russia, on which Washington has placed sanctions. Iran is a big oil supplier to India, and two-thirds of its military equipment is from Russia.

“They’re part of the conversation, they’re part of the relationship, they will certainly come up, but I don’t think they will be the primary focus of what it is we’re trying to accomplish here,” Pompeo told U.S. pool reporters en route to Pakistan.

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