WASHINGON/ISLAMABAD: US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert, during Thursday’s press briefing, stood by the department’s readout on the phone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier in the day.
A readout issued by the US State Department had said: “Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”
Soon after, the Foreign Office had taken exception to the “factually incorrect statement issued by the US State Department” regarding the discussion during the phone call, saying there was “no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan”.
During the press briefing, when asked about Pakistan’s call for immediate correction to the readout, Nauert answered that both sides had a “good call”.
“In the readout, the secretary notes that he spoke with the new prime minister and expressed his willingness to work with the new government toward a productive bilateral relationship. They had a good call,” she said. “That may surprise some of you, but they had a good call. Pakistan is an important partner to the United States. We hope to forge a good, productive working relationship with the new civilian government.”
She went on to say that based on her understanding, “the beginning of the call or the call itself was a good call, and a good discussion toward our working with the new government and the new administration”.
When asked again by a reporter if the US government continues to stand by the readout, she said: “We stand by our readout.”
Earlier on Thursday, Secretary Pompeo had telephoned PM Khan and congratulated him on forming the government.
Pompeo had wished PM Khan well for “implementation of his commitment for the welfare of the people of Pakistan”, reported Radio Pakistan.
PM Khan emphasised the importance of strengthening bilateral relations on the basis of mutual trust and benefit. He also underscored the importance of peace and stability in the region.
With reference to Afghanistan, both the leaders agreed that peace was a priority for their countries.
“Secretary Pompeo expressed his willingness to work with the new government towards a productive bilateral relationship,” the US State Department had acknowledged in its readout.
Pompeo is expected to visit Islamabad in the first week of September for consultations with PM Imran Khan and his team on issues of mutual interests.
Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on Sept 5, will likely be the first foreign dignitary to meet the newly elected prime minister.
During his talks with Pakistani officials, Secretary Pompeo is expected to focus on two major issues: efforts to revive once close ties between the two states and Pakistan’s support for a US-led move to jump-starting the Afghan peace process.—INP