More hopeful than before, Foreign Minister says on returning from US

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Washington (Web Desk) After completing an exhaustive 10-day visit to the United States, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi flew out from the city Wednesday night to return to Pakistan.

Before leaving for Islamabad, Qureshi addressed a press conference, wherein he thanked Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, and the staff at the Embassy in Washington for giving him a warm welcome and hosting him.

“I’m grateful to the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Ali Jahangir Siddiqui and to the staff of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington for hosting me,” he said.

“The entire team cooperated in making my tour to the US successful.”

The foreign minister spoke of his meetings with numerous important leaders and think tanks in the US, as well as the Pakistani diaspora.

“The Pakistani community in the US is quite strong,” he said, but “we need to get [them]active” here. “We are committed to making [their]role in the US effective,” he added.

Of bilateral relations with the US and matters of mutual interest, Qureshi said they made “significant progress”. American officials have made critical comments about Pakistan in the past, he said, adding that over the past year, Islamabad was “bombarded with criticism”.

But, there has been a “visible change in how the US conducted talks this time”, he commented. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was “ready to listen” to what Pakistan had to stay, especially after his visit to Islamabad last month.

Washington got the impression that Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership is on one page, he mentioned, and that US officials were now issuing positive, not negative, statements.

There was a difference between the two countries’ viewpoints, Qureshi explained, but that was due to misunderstanding and was cleared.

“We wish to respect the United States’ laws. The US, in return, needs to respect Pakistani laws,” he commented, adding that he was returning to Pakistan “slightly more hopeful” than before.

Moving on to extremism and the regional issues, the foreign minister said Pakistan was committed to “eradicating terrorism completely”.

“All parties are now united on the National Action Plan,” he said.

Qureshi also explained that the US was persistent on its demands about Dr Shakil Afridi but noted that “resolving opposing stances in one sitting was impossible”.

“We told the US that peace in Afghanistan was not possible without progress in Pakistan,” the foreign minister said. “We do not deny the importance of Afghanistan but the US-Pakistan ties should not be viewed through the lens of Afghanistan.”

“I talked on the situation in Afghanistan during the meeting with Secretary Pompeo,” he added.

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