ISLAMABAD - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that he was hopeful of resetting the troubled relationship with Pakistan, a key player in the Afghan conflict, after cordial meetings in Islamabad including with new premier Imran Khan .
The former CIA director, making his first visit as top US diplomat to Pakistan, told pool reporters shortly before leaving Islamabad that the ‘broad spectrum’ of topics discussed included efforts ‘to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan.’
“I'm hopeful that the foundation that we laid today will set the conditions for continued success,” he said.
Pompeo said that ahead of the trip that it was time to turn the page and suggested that the election of Imran Khan , who has vowed to seek better relations with the US, could provide a fresh impetus.
Imran and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were also positive, according to pool reports. “A sportsman always is an optimist,” the former cricketer, who captained Pakistan to World Cup victory in 1992, was quoted as saying when asked about finding a new way forward with Washington.
"He steps on the field and he thinks he's going to win." Qureshi, meanwhile, described his meeting with Pompeo as "excellent".
Pompeo, who was later joined by General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had also been scheduled to meet Pakistan's powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
In comments made before the trip, Pompeo said that in his conversations with Khan they had agreed that peace in Afghanistan was a "shared goal".
Pompeo also confirmed that Zalmay Khalilzad, a high-profile former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations, would be appointed to lead peace efforts in Afghanistan.
"Ambassador Khalilzad is going to join the State Department team to assist us in the reconciliation effort, so he will come on and be the State Department's lead person for that purpose," he said.
Pompeo spent just a few hours in Pakistan before travelling on to New Delhi, where he will be joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to meet their Indian counterparts on a range of defence and trade issues. - APP/AFP