ISLAMABAD              -        The United States yesterday credited Pakistan for imminent peace deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met his American counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington.

An official statement released here by the foreign ministry said Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

The meeting came a day after FM Qureshi announced that the Afghan Taliban were willing to shun violence. “This is a step toward peace agreement in Afghanistan,” he added – indicating a major diplomatic victory for Pakistan.

Recently, the US and Taliban officials had announced a resumption of official negotiations for the first time since President Donald Trump abruptly halted talks three months ago to end the 18-year war. Last month, Pakistan and the US had shown satisfaction with the recent talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

Prior to meeting with Pompeo, Foreign Minister Qureshi urged the US for a “responsible” withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and not to repeat the ‘mistake’ of 1980s’ pull out by the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

“Pakistan is asking (Washington) for a responsible withdrawal unlike 80s which created a vacuum for the destructive forces to take over,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

He mentioned that Pakistan facilitated a dialogue with Taliban on the request of President Trump “in a hope for peace and stability”.

He expressed the hope of an agreement between the US and the Afghan Taliban. “The Taliban are today talking to US and there is a possibility of an agreement,” he said, adding the announcement by Taliban of a ceasefire of 7-10 days was a positive step.

The FM said that Pakistan will continue its efforts for political solution to lingering Afghan conflict. He underlined the need of strengthening bilateral trade and investment to materialize joint vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump.

The US Secretary lauded Pakistan’s “sincere and utmost” efforts for political solution of Afghan conflict, said the statement.

Qureshi also briefed Pompeo about his visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia where he held talks last week to defuse tension in the Middle East. He said Pakistan was committed to playing its due role in de-escalating prevailing tensions and promoting peace in the Middle Eastern region.

“The two leaders exchanged views on matters pertaining to Pak-US bilateral cooperation, regional security situation, Afghan peace process, and ongoing massive human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir,” said the statement.

The FM expressed regret that India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had besieged millions of Kashmiris by imposing ruthless curfew and other restrictions in the held territory.

He said that the Indian government imposed ban on media in the held territory to hide facts from the world. Qureshi said resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions was vital for brining permanent peace and stability to the South Asian region.

Earlier in the day, speaking at the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Qureshi said Pakistan wanted solution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

He said that people of Occupied Kashmir were facing an indefinite human crisis in the shape of military lockdown and blockades for the past 165th days.

The Foreign Minister said India’s BJP-led government misled the international community on Pulwama issue and construed Pakistan’s desire for peace as its weakness.

He said Pakistan was for peace and development and for this purpose; it opened Kartarpur Corridor not only for India but for the entire world.

About ongoing standoff between the US and Iran, Qureshi said Pakistan was a partner of peace and wanted solution to the issue through diplomatic means.

The FM also met to US Senator Lindsey Graham in Washington and reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment for playing a positive role for peace and stability in the region.

He said there was no military solution to the Afghan issue. The   Foreign Minister apprised the US Senator about Pakistan’s efforts for reducing tensions in the region. He also informed the US Senator about his recent visits to Iran, Saudi Arabia.

Separately, speaking at a ceremony in Capitol Hill, Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasized the significance of further strengthening people-to-people and inter-parliamentary linkages between the United States and Pakistan.

During the interaction, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that Pakistan has always valued its partnership with the US.

In a separate meeting with US under Secretary of Defence John Rood, Qureshi said Pakistan was ready to play its due role in finding peaceful solution to the tensions between the US and Iran.

Discussing various aspects of Pakistan-US defence cooperation, the Foreign Minister highlighted that defence and security cooperation has been one of the defining features of our bilateral cooperation.

Taliban on the request of President Trump “in a hope for peace and stability”.

He expressed the hope of an agreement between the US and the Afghan Taliban. “The Taliban are today talking to US and there is a possibility of an agreement,” he said, adding the announcement by Taliban of a ceasefire of 7-10 days was a positive step.

The FM said that Pakistan will continue its efforts for political solution to lingering Afghan conflict. He underlined the need of strengthening bilateral trade and investment to materialize joint vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump.

The US Secretary lauded Pakistan’s “sincere and utmost” efforts for political solution of Afghan conflict, said the statement.

Qureshi also briefed Pompeo about his visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia where he held talks last week to defuse tension in the Middle East. He said Pakistan was committed to playing its due role in de-escalating prevailing tensions and promoting peace in the Middle Eastern region.

“The two leaders exchanged views on matters pertaining to Pak-US bilateral cooperation, regional security situation, Afghan peace process, and ongoing massive human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir,” said the statement.

The FM expressed regret that India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had besieged millions of Kashmiris by imposing ruthless curfew and other restrictions in the held territory.

He said that the Indian government imposed ban on media in the held territory to hide facts from the world. Qureshi said resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions was vital for brining permanent peace and stability to the South Asian region.