ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and the United States are aiming to revive the trust-level and friendship as Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Wednesday.

The two uneasy allies were at loggerheads after US President Donald Trump attacked Pakistan last month accusing it of providing “safe havens” to terrorists. Announcing his policy for Afghanistan and South Asia, he urged India to play a “bigger role” in Afghanistan.

Pakistan launched diplomatic efforts to counter the damage.

Officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the Abbasi-Pence meeting renewed hopes for resolution of all misunderstandings through talks and improving the trust-level.

“The meeting has been positive and has been helpful in defusing the tension between the two countries. We are hoping to engage in an open dialogue process to remove all the misunderstandings and move forward,” one official said.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told journalists after the meeting in New York, that the interaction was an “ice-breaker”. She said that the two sides had agreed that the US would send a delegation to Pakistan next month for talks.

Citing the meeting, Janjua said that the US vice president maintained his country valued its relationship with Pakistan .

The secretary said that Prime Minister Abbasi complained over the greater role that the new US policy advocated for India.

Prime Minister Abbasi, she said, categorically rejected allegations in President Trump’s speech and made it clear that scapegoating Pakistan would not be helpful for Afghanistan peace.

Another official at the foreign ministry said that Abbasi told the US vice president that Pakistan wanted to continue friendship with the US and fight terrorism together.

“The PM also briefed Pence on Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror. Pence was told, Pakistan had laid down thousands of lives for the cause,” he added.

A foreign ministry statement said that Pakistan and the US had agreed to stay engaged with a “constructive approach to achieve shared objectives of peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.”

It added: “The consensus was evolved during a meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi [and] US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of UNGA session in New York.”

The statement said the two leaders held discussions in a “cordial atmosphere”.

“Both sides discussed issues relating to bilateral relationship as well as peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. [The] prime minister shared Pakistan’s concern and views with regard to the US strategy for South Asia,” it said.

Both the sides, the statement said, agreed to work together to carry forward the relationship, which had been a “historic partnership for the last seven decades.”

About the meeting, the White House said that Vice President Pence had an “important conversation” with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the recently announced South Asia strategy of the President Trump.

“The Vice President and Prime Minister Abbasi had an important conversation about the President’s South Asia strategy that was announced late last month,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting between the two leaders.

During the meeting, Pence highlighted ways that Pakistan could work with the United States and others to bolster stability and prosperity for all in South Asia. Pence reiterated President Trump’s belief that “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort” in the region, the White House said.

In the meeting Pence told Abbasi that Trump recently articulated America’s renewed strategy in South Asia. “We value our relationship with Pakistan , a long-term partnership for security in the region. And we look forward to exploring ways that we can work even more closely with Pakistan and with your government to advance security throughout the region,” he said.

Abbasi thanked Pence for the invitation to meet. He said Pakistan intended to continue efforts to “eliminate terrorism.” He said Pakistan contributed to a “very difficult war,” suffered casualties and economic losses.

PM TO ADDRESS UNGA TODAY

Prime Minister Abbasi will address the UNGA on September 21 (today).

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that the premier would outline Pakistan’s position on key international political, social and development issues of vital concern to the country.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry said that the PM’s “aggressive” speech was prepared keeping in view India’s interference in Pakistan and New Delhi’s state-sponsored terror in Kashmir.

The PM will also stress the need to resolve the Afghan issue through dialogue as there was no military solution to the problem, said an official.

The prime minister is leading Pakistan delegation to the 72nd session of the UNGA in New York.

International affairs expert Dr Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema said that Abbasi should highlight the Indian forces’ excesses in held Kashmir.

He said that the United Nations was the only global body that holds an annual session.

Dr Cheema said the world leaders were avoiding to speak on Kashmir and it was Pakistan’s responsibility to seek world support on the decades-old issue.

Former ambassador Abida Hussain said that the PM was expected to invite world attention towards the successes of the country against the menace of terrorism.

Abbasi, she said, was expected to urge Myanmar for resolution of Rohingya issue.

Hussain added, “[The] US must be told they cannot ignore Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.”