Pompeo steers clear of Kashmir while meeting Imran

Mike Pompeo
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Washington– After the diplomatic brouhaha over President Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks on Kashmir, which invited an immediate denial from an upset India, the US was careful not to mention the ‘K’ word during a subsequent meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pompeo, who called on the Pakistani Premier on Tuesday, stressed that the US looked forward to “continued progress from Pakistan on shared security priorities, including defeating terrorist organisations, which he hoped would form the basis of a reinvigorated partnership”.

He emphasised on the “continued importance of the US and Pakistan working together to advance shared priorities, including Pakistan’s significant role in supporting the Afghan peace process and counter-terrorism”.

Pompeo welcomed the occasion to discuss opportunities for enhanced cooperation, including expanded trade and investment opportunities, said a readout by spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

The Trump administration is banking heavily on Pakistan to resolve the Afghan issue and had invited Islamabad for talks with the Taliban.

During his media interaction along with Imran Khan, Trump had said: “I think Pakistan is going to help us out to extricate ourselves. We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting the war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

His remarks invited a strong reaction from the Afghan government which said on Tuesday that the “Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate”.

It said in a statement that while it appreciates the US efforts towards peace in Afghanistan, it “underscores that foreign heads of state cannot determine Kabul’s fate in the absence of the Afghan leadership”.

After Trump’s remarks on Monday that he would “love” to mediate on the Kashmir issue and that this had been suggested to him by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US administration moved swiftly to counter the diplomatic embarrassment and assuage an upset New Delhi.

India strongly rejected Trump’s claim, made in front of Imran Khan. “No such request was made,” India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Parliament.

Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells clarified that the US administration welcomes India and Pakistan sitting down to resolve the “bilateral” issue and the “US stands ready to assist”.

In stating that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, echoed India’s stand on the subject.

“While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes #Pakistan and #India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist,” he tweeted. (IANS)


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