ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday and pressed him "to do more" to rein in the terror groups operating from the country's soil, days after the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad.
Pompeo, the former CIA chief who was on his first visit to Pakistan as the top American diplomat, told Khan that he was "pleased" with his meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi earlier in the day.
But at the same time, Pompeo asked Khan "to do more" at the meeting, which was also attended by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Qureshi, Geo TV reported, citing diplomatic sources.
This was the US' first high-level dialogue with Pakistan since the new government of Prime Minister Khan assumed office after the July 25 elections and comes days after the US cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.
"In #Pakistan with my colleague & friend CJCS Gen Joe Dunford.
Today we met with PM @ImranKhanPTI & FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi to discuss our diplomatic & military to military relationship" Pompeo tweeted.
Later, Qureshi told reporters that the Pakistani perspective was presented responsibly to the US delegation.
"You could have guessed by the body language that the meeting was a cordial one. We tried to understand their wishes and put forth our own expectations and concerns," he said.
"Ice has been thawed," Qureshi said.
"Today, we felt that we have created an atmosphere to reset our relations, and the lack of trust that was present has been broken which is a very positive development.
"Believe me, if our narrative had not set in with them, the atmosphere would have been different, your questions to me would have been different and the nature of Pompeo's tweet before leaving would have been different," he told reporters.
"I told them that if you want to proceed with Pakistan, the foundation lies in trust, frank and candid conversation.
And until and unless we address concerns from both the sides, progress is not possible," he added.
Regarding the US delegation's meeting with Prime Minister Khan, Qureshi said: "During the meeting at the PM House we all sat down and exchanged views.
In the past, they used to come, meet the PM and then went to the GHQ (Army headquarters).
Today's meeting sent a clear message that we are all on the same page.
" The foreign minister said that he decided against raising the US decision to scrap the USD 300 million in aid. This wasn't a new decision," he said.
"That decision was taken before this govt took charge. I gave this matter some thought then I decided against raising it because free nations think along the lines of self-sufficiency. We will take a new direction. The two sides discussed Afghan peace process."
"I'm a born optimist. A sportsman always is an optimist. He steps on the field and he thinks he's going to win," Khan said, referring to efforts by the US and Pakistan to improve their ties which has nose-dived in recent months.
Pompeo, who along with US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen Joseph Dunford had arrived on an official visit to Pakistan, earlier met Qureshi and discussed "bilateral, regional and international issues", in a bid to reset the strained ties on basis of "mutual trust and respect".
In a statement, the Foreign Office said Qureshi highlighted that the priority of the new Government was socio-economic development and for the success of people centered agenda and economic reforms, an enabling regional security environment was imperative.
He reaffirmed that improving relations with neighbours was a priority, in an apparent reference to strained ties with India and Afghanistan, which often accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens to militants to conduct cross border attacks.
Qureshi also 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," the statement said.
Pompeo stated that US fully supported the reform agenda of Prime Minister Khan and wished the government success in its implementation, it said, adding that Pompeo conveyed the US desire to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The ties between the two countries strained after US President Donald Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to "agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has "much to lose" by harbouring terrorists.
He had also slammed Pakistan for its support to terror groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continues to do so.
In January, Trump suspended all military assistance to Pakistan accusing it of rewarding past assistance with "nothing but lies and deceit.
" The relation between the two "allies" are passing through a difficult period as the US is upset over what it calls lack of cooperation from Islamabad in eliminating militancy in Afghanistan.
The two sides publicly differed over what was discussed between Pompeo and Khan during a telephonic conversation.