ISLAMABAD - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver the same old message of ‘do more’ to Pakistan when he makes a stopover in Islamabad on September 5 before flying to India for the 2+2 Dialogue, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

Pompeo is expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his one-day visit. This will be the first time that the Donald Trump administration will establish direct contact with Pakistan’s new Prime Minister amid tension.

Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will be in New Delhi on September 6 for the dialogue with their Indian counterparts Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The India-US ‘2+2’ dialogue has been deferred twice by the US.

The 2+2 dialogue - a meeting between the external affairs and defence ministers with their US counterparts - was earlier scheduled for July. After postponing the meet in June, the US said it would host the Indian defence minister in Washington in early July as per the initial plan, but India reportedly declined the recommendation. The exact reasons for postponing the key dialogue have not been made public by US officials, triggering a series of speculations within the Indian strategic community.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry – who remain in contact with the US - told The Nation that Pompeo was not expected to bring any ‘new or harmonious’ message to Pakistan. One official said: “We are expecting the same old message from the US. We do not expect any softness from the US. We have already been ‘doing more’ but we are ready to ‘do more’ to bring Pakistan and the US closer.”

He added: “The new Foreign Minister is optimistic that the meeting with Pompeo will help defuse the tension. This will also be good as the US-India ties are growing.”

About Pompeo’s visit, new Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he was ‘well informed’ of the priorities of US as “I have worked with them in the past. Relations are based on equality and we also have our own priorities.”

The foreign minister said, he will listen to the US concerns and also put before them Pakistan’s viewpoint. He said bilateral relationship should be improved on the basis of mutual respect and equality. Last week, Pompeo said the US hoped to strengthen ties with Pakistan. In a statement, he said for more than seven decades, the relationship between the US and Pakistan had “rested on the strong foundation of close ties between our two peoples.” “In the years ahead, we hope to further strengthen these bonds, as we continue to look for opportunities to work with the people and Government of Pakistan to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia,” the statement read.

Before taking oath as the Prime Minister, Imran Khan had said that Pakistan and the US should strengthen their relations based on trust, amidst tensions in bilateral ties over Islamabad’s support for terror groups.

The relations between Pakistan and the United States were shaken this January after President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists. He also asked Pakistan to ‘sincerely help’ the US complete its anti-terror mission if it wanted the financial and military aid.

The US Congress also passed a bill to slash Pakistan’s defence aid to $ 150 million, significantly below the historic level of more than one billion dollars per year.

Before the general elections, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells, who will accompany Pompeo on September 5, delivered a strong message of ‘do a lot more’ to Pakistan as she visited Islamabad.

Wells visited Pakistan two times this year aiming at continuing the conversation to strengthen bilateral relations and promote peace and security in the region. Another foreign ministry official said Pakistan will be ‘soft’ and will be ready to ‘listen’ without comprising on the interest of the country during the Pompeo visit.

“We have to live in this world. We can’t afford tension but also can’t afford to compromise too much. Hopefully, we will find a middle way out through talks with the US,” he said.