Pak-US ties back on rails after Abbasi-Pence talks

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APP09-20 NEW YORK: September 20 - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi meets US Vice President Michael Richard Pence on the sidelines of 72nd session of UN General Assembly. APP

By Iftikhar Ali and Shafek Koreshe

UNITED NATIONS Sept 20 (APP): Leaders of Pakistan and United States, who met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, held frank talks on Tuesday that put the Islamabad-Washington relationship, strained by the controversial US policy on Afghanistan “back on rails”, as they agreed on continuing dialogue to address their concerns.
“It was a good meeting,” Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told reporters after 45-minute long meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Vice President of the United States of America Mike Pence that United States had requested.
Responding to questions, she termed the progress made at the meeting as an “ice-breaker” that was held here at the UN headquarters on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the General Assembly.
She said it was agreed that the United States would send a delegation to Pakistan in October to continue the talks, a move that analysts saw as a positive development.
It was the first high level contact between the two countries, after the announcement of the new US strategy by President Donald Trump on Afghanistan and South Asia, that carried a series of unfounded charges against Pakistan for not doing enough in its fight against terrorism.
Earlier in their opening remarks, the US Vice President greeted Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi on behalf of President Donald Trump.
He recalled the new strategy articulated by President Donald Trump on South Asia and said the United States valued its relationship with Pakistan, a long term partnership for for security in the region.
Responding to another question, the Foreign Secretary said that the Prime Minister expressed concern over the greater role that the new policy advocated for India.
She said the Prime Minister elaborated the points raised by the National Security Committee in which Pakistan categorically rejected allegations contained in President Trump’s speech, saying “scapegoating Pakistan will not help bring stability to Afghanistan”.
The Committee pointed out that Pakistan had an abiding interest in peace and stability in Afghanistan and it endorsed and supported all Afghan owned and Afghan led initiatives for peace.
Prime Minister Abbasi was assisted by Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Secretary Ms Tehmina Janjua and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi.
During the meeting, each side openly stated their concerns vis-a-vis the situation in the region.
Welcoming the Pakistani Prime Minister Vice President Pence said, “We look forward to exploring ways so that we can work even more closely with Pakistan and with your government to advance security throughout the region.”
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in response thanked the US Vice President for his invitation and said he too looked forward to discussing issues of mutual interest, especially the war against terrorism.
He said “Pakistan has been a long-standing partner and we intend to continue efforts to eliminate terrorism in the area.”
“We have made our contributions, we fought a very difficult war, we suffered casualties and have suffered economic losses and that is the message that we bring to the world,” he said.
“We are partners in the war against terrorism.”
Pakistan had urged the United States to “understand and recognize its efforts, contributions and sacrifices of thousands of Pakistanis and over 120 billion US dollars of economic losses.