POST TIME: 6 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Pompeo in Pakistan seeking new ties

Pompeo in Pakistan seeking new ties

This handout picture released by Pakistan's PID yesterday shows Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) shaking hands with visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his arrival at the Foreign Ministary in Islamabad. AFP PHOTO

ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Islamabad yesterday to meet new Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying he was hoping to "reset the relationship" with Pakistan which has worsened in recent months, reports AFP.

The conciliatory remarks by Pompeo, whose flight touched down just before 1:00 pm (0800 GMT), come days after Washington confirmed plans to cancel $300 million in military aid.

But the former CIA director, making his first visit as top US diplomat to the wayward ally whose support is vital in the Afghan conflict, said it was time to "turn the page". "So first stop -- Pakistan," he said, speaking on a plane ahead of his trip to South Asia.

"New leader there, wanted to get out there at the beginning of his time in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries," he said.

"There are lot of challenges between our two nations, for sure, but we're hopeful that with the new leadership that we can find common ground and we can begin to work on some of our shared problems together," added Pompeo, who will be joined by General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which attack Afghanistan from safe havens along the border between the two countries. The White House believes that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban for ideological reasons, and also to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.

It believes that a Pakistani crackdown on the militants could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the long-running war in Afghanistan.

Pompeo suggested that the election of Khan, who has vowed to seek better relations with the US, could provide a fresh impetus.

"Look, I think there is a new government this time, most of this took place long before the prime minister was in power and I hope we can turn the page and begin to make progress. But there are real expectations," he said.