ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan Thursday said Pak-US ties were beyond the ‘do more’ phase and the relationship was back to ‘normal’ after the persistent uneasiness.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pak-US relations had been reset with the “successful and productive” visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington.

“There was no mention of ‘do more’ during talks with the US administration (when Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the US). We want to move forward on the basis of mutual respect. The relations between Pakistan and the United States have returned to normal,” he said. This week, Prime Minister Imran Khan met US President Donald Trump at the White House. This was the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since 2015. PM Khan and President Trump held comprehensive discussions with a focus on building a broad-based and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the US and strengthening cooperation between the two countries to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity in South Asia.

Pak-US relations had taken a turn for the worse in recent years, with the US announcing a $300 million cut in military aid to Pakistan in 2018. US President Donald Trump attacked Pakistan on Twitter in November, saying it was not doing enough to stop terrorism. However, recently, tension between the US and Pakistan had thawed with Trump praising Prime Minister Imran Khan’s role in facilitating the Afghan peace process. Last month, Trump had said the US developed a ‘much better’ relationship recently with Pakistan and had added that the US may set up some meetings with Pakistan.

The main sticking point between Washington and Islamabad had been the issue of the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan. The US has been engaged in a more than 17-year war against the group and was currently engaged in talks with it to hammer out a prospective peace deal to end the conflict.

Dr Mohammed Faisal pointed out that Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Trump held comprehensive talks focusing on building a broad-based and enduring partnership between the two countries and strengthening cooperation to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity in South Asia.  “Pakistan and the US have decided to establish a mechanism to follow up on the understanding reached during the visit,” he added.

On Afghanistan, the spokesperson said Pakistan’s role had been that of facilitator which has been acknowledged by all including the US.  “We want an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution of the conflict,” he remarked.

Dr Faisal said Pakistan welcomed President Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir dispute and expressed surprise over Indian reaction.

“India should give a matured response for resolution of the outstanding dispute. Pakistan’s approach is peace and dialogue based for resolution of the dispute in accordance with the UN Security resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmiri people. May be India will understand if President Trump mediates. We have no option but dialogue,” he maintained.

About the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control by India, the spokesperson said Pakistan has been giving befitting response to the Indian fire.  He said Pakistan desired peace and 2003 ceasefire agreement must be respected.

Kartarpur talks expected soon

Questioned about the next meeting on Kartarpur corridor with India, Dr Faisal said Pakistan was prepared for the talks. “The Indian side has to give the dates. The meeting should be held soon,” he added.

Jadhav to be granted consular access

He said Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav would be granted consular access. “The process for this (access) is already underway,” he said. This month, the International Court of Justice had found that India’s submission pertaining to the acquittal and release of Kulbhushan Jadhav could not be upheld. However, the ICJ allowed India consular access to Jadhav and called on Pakistan to review and reconsider his conviction and sentence.

About Iran, Dr Faisal said all parties must work towards easing the tension in the region. He said Pakistan was watching the developments in the region very closely. He said security of commercial and shipping supply lines in the Strait of Hormuz and beyond was very important and critical. Responding to a question about PM Khan’s remarks during a US television interview that the Inter-Services Intelligence provided the US with the lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, the foreign office spokesperson said: “Pakistan had provided initial information about Osama bin Laden to the US. I will neither confirm nor deny if the ISI provided any assistance to the Central Intelligence Agency in (finding) Osama bin Laden.”