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US secretary of state likely to visit Pakistan in September to hold talks with Imran Khan

Imran Khan

Islamabad | US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is likely to visit Pakistan in the first week of September to hold talks with newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan on issues of mutual interests, a media report said today.

Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on September 5, would be the first foreign dignitary to meet Prime Minister Khan, Dawn reported, quoting the diplomatic and official sources. Khan, 65, was sworn in as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister at a simple ceremony in Islamabad yesterday.

The US has welcomed the swearing-in of Khan as new Prime Minister and said that it was looking forward to work with Pakistan’s new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in the country and in the region.

The relations between Pakistan and the US nose-dived after President Donald Trump in January accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists.

The US Congress also passed a bill to slash Pakistan’s defence aid to USD 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than USD one billion per year.

Citing its sources, the paper said that during his talks with Pakistani officials, Pompeo may focus on two major issues: efforts to revive once close ties between the two countries and Pakistan’s support for a US-led move to jump-starting the Afghan peace process.

Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for South Asian affairs at the State Department, may also accompany Pompeo, the paper added. In recent statements, US officials have expressed the desire to restore their once close ties with Pakistan.

In her speech at the Pakistan Embassy earlier this week, Wells not only welcomed Khan’s election but also expressed the desire to work with his government for resolving difficult issues.

Wells noted that the new leader had also recognised the importance of US-Pakistan relationship in his public statements and in his first meeting with US Embassy officials in Islamabad.

In his victory speech last month, Khan said he wants a balanced relation between Pakistan and America which should be mutually beneficial, not one sided.

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