ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that the matter of suspension of $300 million aide by the United States (US) would be taken up during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit to the country.
FM Qureshi said this in a news conference just hours after the US military announced that it was suspending $300 million in ‘aid’ to Pakistan. He clarified that the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) blocked by the US military was part of reimbursement for the loss of lives and financial losses Pakistan suffered while leading the fight against terrorism.
“I once again stress that it was no aid that was cancelled. It was all our money that we spent and they were merely reimbursing it,” he said, adding that the deal was done even before his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government assumed power at the Centre.
Pompeo and the top US military officer, General Joseph Dunford, are scheduled to visit Islamabad on September 5.
“We will sit and discuss this with him [Pompeo]. We will try to improve bilateral ties between the two countries. We will listen to him and present our point of view to him as well,” said the foreign minister.
Blaming the previous PML-N government of the current state of bilateral ties with the US, Qureshi said, “The last government had no engagement, no dialogue [with the US administration] … in fact there was an almost total breakdown of talks. But we will try to revive the talks.”
FM Qureshi’s media interaction came days after Prime Minister Imran Khan and his top aides received a comprehensive briefing on national security from the military brass at the General Headquarters.
The US routinely calls on Pakistan to do more in the fight against terrorism even though Islamabad has suffered huge losses, both in men and material, in its effort to purge the region of the menace of terrorism.
The latest development came days after a congratulatory phone call made by Pompeo to Premier Imran degenerated in a diplomatic tiff, with both the countries offering conflicting accounts of what the pair had discussed.
However, on Thursday, Islamabad stepped back from the row with the US State Department with Foreign Office spokesperson saying: “We would want the episode to end… politically, we need to move on.”
Commenting on PM Khan’s visit to the GHQ, Qureshi said the visit took place in a ‘very positive atmosphere’. “The briefing was given in a wonderful environment … the civil-military relations are very good and the leadership held positive talks on the future strategy of our country and national and external challenges we are facing,” he added.
On the reports of French president’s reported telephone call during PM Imran’s meeting with senior journalists, the foreign minister confirmed that no telephonic conversation between the two leaders took place on Friday and it is scheduled for Monday.