US handout on Imran-Pompeo call ‘contrary to facts’: Pakistan minister

Islamabad,   Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday said that the US handout on a phone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo which mentioned terrorists operating in Pakistan was “contrary to facts”.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday night categorically rejected a statement by the US State Department which said that Pompeo had raised the importance of Islamabad taking decisive action against all terrorists operating on its soil during his phone conversation with Khan.

“There was no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan,” the Foreign Office said. However, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert later said that Washington “stood by their readout”.

Qureshi in a press conference said that he directed the Foreign Secretary to issue an immediate rebuttal over the statements issued from Washington. “I will say, yes, their press release mentioning terrorists operating in Pakistan is contrary to the facts.”

The Foreign Minister said that Pakistan was looking forward to Pompeo’s visit to Islamabad on September 5, Geo News reported.

“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 for areas where both countries stand to gain.”

“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 Khan and Pompeo will be very important.”

Qureshi said that Pakistan’s relationship with the US 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,” he added.

Talking about Afghanistan, Qureshi said that peace in Kabul was essential for Islamabad. “The Afghan President (Ashraf Ghani) has pointed towards a peace process and we have to see how Pakistan can help in this process.”