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Pompeo, Dunford get cold reception upon arrival

Relations between the strategic allies are tense after the US announced the cancellation of $300m in aid to Pakistan.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan’s foreign minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi has made it clear to his US counterpart Pompeo’s visiting delegation that Pakistan’s national interests will remain supreme priority of the new government.

Important discussions on bilateral, regional, and international issues took place between the two countries, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement adding that the FM underscored the need to reset bilateral ties on basis of mutual trust and respect.

Also read: US to cancel $300m in aid as Pakistan says ‘no more’

Pompeo landed in Pakistan on Wednesday for a brief visit on his whistle-stop tour of the region, with the war in Afghanistan and the issue of militants once again set to dominate discussions with Pakistan.

Pompeo is next due to visit India, the main stop of his South Asia tour, where he is expected to pile pressure on New Delhi over its purchases of Iranian oil and Russian missile systems in talks with senior Indian officials.

In Pakistan, Pompeo will meet new premier Imran Khan and the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, against a backdrop of tense ties and US military aid cuts over Islamabad’s alleged reluctance to crack down on militants.

In July, Pompeo said there was “no rationale” for the IMF to give money to Pakistan that would then be used to pay off Chinese loans, comments that further rattled Islamabad.

Pompeo and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will meet their Indian counterparts in New Delhi on Thursday, and are expected to finalize defense pacts that could bring their militaries closer amid China’s rising influence.

Also read: US threatens India with sanctions if it buys Russia’s S-400 missiles

The talks come as U.S. hostility rises towards India’s traditional allies Iran and Russia, on which Washington has placed sanctions. Iran is a big oil supplier to India, and two-thirds of its military equipment is from Russia.

“They’re part of the conversation, they’re part of the relationship, they will certainly come up, but I don’t think they will be the primary focus of what it is we’re trying to accomplish here,” Pompeo told U.S. pool reporters en route to Pakistan.

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