Dunford, Pompeo pressure Pakistan on militant support

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said talks with Pakistan’s leaders provided an opportunity to “reset the relationship” between the two countries

ISLAMABAD — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said rounds of talks with Pakistan’s leaders Wednesday provided an opportunity to “reset the relationship” between the two countries but acknowledged both sides had a long way to go on key security issues.

“We’ve had lots of times where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those,” Pompeo said. Today’s discussion, with newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan, his foreign minister Shah Mahmood Quareshi and Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Javed Bajwa, had a different tone, Pompeo said.

“There was broad agreement … that we need to begin to do things that will begin to actually on the ground deliver outcomes so we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries,” Pompeo said.

However there were no specific agreements reached Wednesday that could lead to the U.S. reinstating some of the military aid it has withheld, Pompeo said.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” Pompeo said.

Much of that reset will be based on the existing military-to-military exchanges that have persisted between the U.S. and Pakistan, a relationship Pompeo called “foundational.”

There are “lots more discussions 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,” Pompeo said. “They’ve still continued to have relationships, worked on lots of projects together, and I hope we can use that as one of the foundational elements.”

Dunford also said there were no indications that the U.S. use of supply routes through Pakistan would be impacted even as the latest U.S. round of withheld military aid takes effect in Pakistan.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, second from right, talks with Zafar Iqbal, Pakistan's director general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other top government officials as he prepares to depart Pakistan Air Force Base Nur Khan. (Tara Copp/Military Times)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, second from right, talks with Zafar Iqbal, Pakistan's director general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other top government officials as he prepares to depart Pakistan Air Force Base Nur Khan. (Tara Copp/Military Times)

“We don’t have any reason to indicate that our cooperation in keeping the GLOCS open is going to change,” Dunford said, referring to key shipping routes.

Dunford is on a week-long trip to meet with his counterparts in Pakistan and India to discuss the South Asia Strategy and ways both countries can do more to help stabilize Afghanistan.