ISLAMABAD             -       The United States has started getting warmer to Pakistan amid hints of the Afghan issue resolution.

Trump administration approved a resumption of Pakistan’s participation in a coveted US military training and educational programme more than a year after it was suspended, the State Department said.

The decision to resume Islamabad’s participation in the International Military Education and Training Programme, or IMET - for more than a decade a pillar of US-Pakistani military ties - underscores warming relations that have followed meetings this year between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Washington also has credited Islamabad with helping to facilitate negotiations on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This month, Pakistan and the United States showed satisfaction with the recent talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

US top negotiator for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa separately during his one-day visit to the federal capital.

“During the meeting, both the leaders discussed Afghan peace process and regional security. They also deliberated on overall law and order situation,” said a foreign ministry statement.

Foreign Minister Qureshi assured Khalilzad that Pakistan will continue to sincerely play the role of facilitator in the Afghan peace process.

Pakistan ambassador-designate to Germany Dr Mohammed Faisal had said Pakistan welcomed the resumption of direct talks between the US and Taliban.

“We have always held that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. We hope that the Peace Process is concluded soon and it leads to an intra-Afghan dialogue and reduction of violence,” he said.

Dr Faisal said Pakistan will continue to support all peaceful efforts in this regard, as it had done in the past. “However, at this critical time, it is important to remain watchful of the role of spoilers who do not wish to see an end to the Afghan conflict,” he added.

The State Department administers IMET. It was a small facet of US security aid programmes for Pakistan worth some $2 billion that remain suspended on orders that Trump abruptly issued in January 2018 to compel the nuclear-armed South Asian nation to crack down on militants. Trump’s decision, announced in a tweet, blindsided US officials.

A State Department spokesperson said in an email that Trump’s 2018 decision to suspend security assistance authorised “narrow exceptions for programmes that support vital US national security interests.” The decision to restore Pakistani participation in IMET was “one such exception,” she said.

The programme “provides an opportunity to increase bilateral cooperation between our countries on shared priorities,” she added. “We want to continue to build on this foundation through concrete actions that advance regional security and stability.”

Pakistan was in the process of selecting officers to send to the United States. The restart of the programme, however, is subject to approval by Congress.

Republican and Democratic aides for the Senate and House of Representatives committees with jurisdiction over the process did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

IMET affords spaces to foreign military officers at US military education institutions, such as the US Army War College and the US Naval War College.

Pakistan’s suspension from the programme in August 2018 prompted the cancellation of 66 slots set aside that year for Pakistani military officers in one of the first known impacts of Trump’s decision to halt security assistance.

The US military traditionally has sought to shield such educational programmes from political tensions, arguing that the ties built by bringing foreign military officers to the United States pay long-term dividends.