U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is hopeful the United States can build a strong foundation to "reset" its relationship with Pakistan.
Pompeo arrived in the capital city of Islamabad on Wednesday along with a U.S. delegation hoping to break a diplomatic stalemate with leaders there -- including Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Islamabad's new military chief -- and end the war in neighboring Afghanistan, which will soon enter its 18th year.
"We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum, economic, business, commercial, the work that we all know that we need to do to try to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan that benefits certainly Afghanistan, but also the United States and Pakistan," Pompeo said, according to CNN. "I'm hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward."
U.S. relations with Pakistan have broken down in the past year since President Donald Trump accused the country of playing a double game -- publicly supporting U.S. efforts while secretly supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan. Last week, the Pentagon decided not to offer $300 million in military aid to Pakistan.
Pompeo said the funds could be restored if the White House deems Pakistan has shown a sufficient amount of progress toward combating terrorist groups, but added the country had yet to reach that point.
"We've still got a long way to go, lots more discussion to be had, but the relationship military-to-military is one that has remained in a place where some of the other relationships haven't frankly," he said.
The United States has withheld $800 million in Coalition Support Funds so far this year.
Pakistani leaders deny providing assistance to Afghan insurgents. Instead, they say the Taliban continues to recruit and capture more territory because of the U.S. presence and show of military force.
"We need Pakistan to seriously engage to help us get to the reconciliation we need in Afghanistan," Pompeo said.
Quereshi said his goal is to build a relationship of mutual trust and respect.
"Bilateral engagement is almost non-existent, almost in total suspension," he said. "So we need to look as to how to move forward. We will listen to their point of view and place our stance before them."
After the meeting on Wednesday, Qureshi said the two sides "created a fresh start for our bilateral relationship," adding that he understands U.S. concerns to no longer have a footprint in Afghanistan.
"Our future is linked to Afghanistan. The future of our children is linked to Afghanistan," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "My peace and stability is linked to Afghan peace and stability."
Although the two sides didn't reach any official agreements, Pompeo said there would be "a lot more discussions to be had" in the future.
"We need to begin to do things that will actually on the ground deliver outcomes so that we can build confidence and trust. That was the focus," he said of Wednesday's meetings.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © UPI, 2021. All Rights Reserved.