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January 19, 2020

Time for US to meet Pakistan expectations

Top Story

 
January 19, 2020

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday said the United States should withdraw troops from Afghanistan in a responsible manner and avoid repeating past mistakes.

The remarks were made during an interview with American broadcaster Fox News. Qureshi’s statement came within hours of meetings with US officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Over the past week, the minister has been on a diplomatic outreach mission following increased tensions between Iran and US. He was in Tehran and Riyadh before heading to Washington.

In the interview with Fox, the foreign minister talked about several topics of concern to Pakistan, including the Afghan peace talks, tensions in the Middle East, and Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir. "Pakistan is asking [the US] for a responsible withdrawal unlike the '80s which created a vacuum for the destructive forces to take over," he said after being asked about US involvement in the Soviet-Afghan war. Responding to a question about the Afghan peace process, Qureshi said Pakistan facilitated a US dialogue with Taliban on the request of US President Donald Trump in a hope for peace and stability in the region. "The Taliban are speaking to the US today and there is a possibility of an agreement," he said, mentioning about Thursday's announcement by Taliban of a ceasefire before they could take next step leading to dialogue. Asked to comment on the possible participation of Prime Minister Imran at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in India later this year, Qureshi said Pakistan had always said it would take steps toward peace. "The prime minister is very very clear that if India takes one step, Pakistan will take two," he said, adding that, "unfortunately India is showing a negative attitude, and is resorting to repression in Kashmir."

Earlier on Friday, Qureshi met Pompeo in Washington to discuss bilateral ties, trade, tensions in the Middle East and the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. In messages shared on Twitter after the meeting, Qureshi and Pompeo both said the Afghan peace process also came under discussion during the meeting.

"The convergence between Pakistan and US stands as a unique opp for peace in Afghanistan, ultimately a shared responsibility. Pakistan will continue to play part for peace in entire region," FM Qureshi tweeted. During the meeting, the foreign minister conveyed Pompeo that Pakistan had lived up to all US expectations during a difficult time and now was the time for the latter to reciprocate. He also called for a review of travel advisory for Pakistan.

Mike Pompeo later sent out a tweet saying that he had enjoyed meeting FM Qureshi and held discussions on him on a wide range of issues of bilateral interest to the two countries. "Enjoyed meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister today.

We discussed countering Iranian aggression, the Afghan peace process, trade ties, and regional stability," Pompeo wrote in a post on Twitter.