WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD – United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pressed Prime Minister Imran Khan in a phone call to take “decisive action” against “terrorists” operating in Pakistan, the State Department said Thursday.
Pompeo wished Khan success in the wake of his being sworn in as prime minister in Islamabad Saturday after a victory in national elections on July 25, said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
“Secretary Pompeo expressed his willingness to work with the new government towards a productive bilateral relationship,” Nauert said in a statement.
He also “raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”
During the conversation, Khan emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan on the basis of mutual trust and mutual benefit, and underscored the importance of peace and stability in the region especially in Afghanistan.
Washington has pressured Pakistan for years to crack down on the branches of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network operating the country, both of which have been designated as terror groups by the United States.
The relations between Pakistan and the US nose-dived after President Donald Trump in new year tweet 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.
In his victory speech last month after winning the July 25 polls, the prime minister said he wants a balanced relation between Pakistan and America which should be mutually beneficial, not one sided.
Before the election he repeatedly blamed Pakistan’s participation in the US-led anti-terror campaign for the surge in terrorism on home soil over the last decade.
Imran Khan, 65, was sworn in as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister at a simple ceremony in Islamabad on Saturday. The US welcomed the new prime minster and said that it was looking forward to work with new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in the country and in the region.
“For over 70 years, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been a vital one,” the statement added.
Reports say Pompeo is likely to visit Pakistan in September and hold talks with the newly elected prime minister.
Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on September 5, would be the first foreign dignitary to meet Imran Khan.