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US handout on Imran-Pompeo call ‘contrary to facts: Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday that the US State Department’s readout on the phone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is ‘contrary to facts’.
Earlier, the Pakistan Foreign Office categorically rejected the statement by the State Department regarding contents of a phone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Mike Pompeo.
“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,” said the readout issued by the US authorities.
The foreign minister in his press conference at the Foreign Office said that he directed the foreign secretary to issue an immediate rebuttal over the statements issued from the Washington DC.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his conversation with the prime minister said he wanted a constructive and productive relationship. I am looking forward to his visit and engage with him for peace and stability and look and areas where both countries stand to gain,” the foreign minister added. Qureshi confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Islamabad on September 5.
“We don’t share the same cordial relations with the US as we had before in the past. The US authorities have to understand Pakistan’s view,” he said. “I believe that the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State will be very important.”
The foreign minister said that Pakistan no longer remains the darling of the West in the changing international political dynamics.
“We have a longstanding bilateral relationship with the US which has had its ups and downs. This is an important bilateral relationship. In order to bring relations with the US to a past level; there is a need to understand the situation and needs in Afghanistan,” he added.The foreign minister reiterated that Pakistan will have to make the US understand its genuine reservations over certain policy matters.
Qureshi said that the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has sent a message requesting a visit to Pakistan on August 30-31. “We will welcome the Iranian Foreign Minister on his Pakistan visit,” he added.
The Chinese foreign minister is expected to arrive in Pakistan on September 8, he said, adding that the Japanese foreign minister is also expected to visit Pakistan at the end of August.Qureshi said that as per the directives issued by the Prime Minister on the austerity drive, he has decided to not stay in the 5-star hotels during foreign official trips.
“I will try to stay in our embassies wherever possible. The foreign minister has the legal authority to travel first class but I will not do this and will prefer business class travel. We will try to avoid big delegations have limited entourage,” he said.
The foreign minister said that in view of curtailing unnecessary travel abroad, no minister or secretary will be allowed to travel abroad without the permission of the prime minister.
“We should try to save as much foreign exchange as possible. The objective of this is to evaluate what will be the benefit of travelling abroad to Pakistan. If there is no need to travel abroad it should be avoided,” the foreign minister said.
The foreign minister stressed that dialogue was an essential part for relations between Pakistan and India to move forward. “We are not shy of engagement.
In his first speech, the prime minister made it clear that if you [India] take one step forward we will take two. We need positive signalling.”
Quershi also thanked India’s External Affairs minister for sending him a congratulatory letter but emphasised that you “need two to tango.”
“I want to ask the Indian foreign minister if there is any other option than dialogue. In my opinion, there isn’t. When there is dialogue, regardless of the progress the climate is improved.”
The foreign minister added that everyone was aware that Kashmir was a core issue, but there were other issues such as the water crisis which needed to be discussed between the two South Asian neighbours.