Pak-US talks positive development; break disrupted bilateral engagement: FM

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APP63-05 ISLAMABAD: September 05 – Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefs the media during a press conference at Foreign Office. APP photo by Irshad Sheikh

ISLAMABAD, Sep 5 (APP):Describing the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the bilateral discussions as “a positive development”, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Wednesday said it broke the “disrupted bilateral engagement” as the two sides expressed willingness to move forward.
“I presented Pakistan’s view-point with fortitude, dignity and responsibility,” Qureshi told a press conference here after the bilateral talks with US Secretary of State at the Foreign Office and the subsequent meeting at the PM Office in the presence of civilian and military leadership.
The foreign minister said Secretary Mike Pompeo invited him for a further round of engagement and he was intending to meet him during his upcoming visit to the US to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
He said the atmosphere today was positive and the main reason behind it was that the United States had also renewed its policy and reached to the conclusion that solution to the Afghan issue lied in a negotiated settlement.
Here an alignment and cohesion between the two countries could be seen, he said, adding such a stance had already been propounded by Prime Minister Imran Khan that there was no military solution to the Afghan issue as it could be only achieved through political negotiations.
During today’s meeting, the US also gave weight to such a solution and they hinted that now it was ready for direct talks with the Taliban, he added.
The foreign minister said the other meaningful thing, which appeared during the meeting, was that Washington did no longer want its footprints on the Afghan soil, however, they hinted no timeframe.
He also reiterated that the new government in Pakistan had positive approach towards its neighbours in the region. “Forging good ties with our neighbours is the top agenda of the government which is based upon welfare of its people,” he added
The foreign policy would be directed under the objectives of attaining stability, regional connectivity and economic development, he said, adding Pakistan wanted to move ahead with this approach.
The foreign minister also announced that he would be undertaking his first visit to Afghanistan as Pakistan and Afghanistan were bound with different historic, cultural and religion affinities and their future was correlated. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan was vital for the progress of Pakistan and the region, he added.
He said that he told Secretary Pompeo clearly that if they wanted to proceed on bilateral ties, it required frank and candid talks.
Both the sides should listen to each other and the US side was told about the concerns and reservations as without addressing them, no development could take place, he added.
“Today we listened to them and presented our own views and concerns in an emphatic way,” he said.
The foreign minister said Washington had to understand the public mandate the new government was vested with.
To a question, he said the meeting at the PM Office, which, besides Prime Minister Imran Khan, was also attended by Chief of Army Staff and Inter Services Intelligence Director General, gave a clear message to Washington that the civilian and military leadership were on the same page.
About the US desire for Pakistan’s support in addressing the Afghan problem, the foreign minister said the US side was clearly told that Pakistan was ready to play its positive role. But for enhanced attention on its western border, Pakistan would require ease on the eastern border, he said and referred to the continued ceasefire violations by India on the Line of Control.
To a question about the suspension of $ 300 million Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by the United States, Foreign Minister Qureshi said the issue was not raised in today’s meeting as he did not consider it appropriate to talk about financial matters.