Pakistan bans first-class air travel by PM, president, govt officials


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a phone call to take "decisive action" against "terrorists" operating in Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday (Aug 23).

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made the statement at a news conference in Islamabad, a day after Pompeo's first conversation with Khan.

In one of the initial moves after becoming the Prime Minister, Imran Khan said that his government will support any positive steps to improve relations with India.

After Pompeo and Khan's call, the state department issued a press release about the conversation held between the dignitaries.

The Trump Administration has been at loggerheads with Pakistan after the American president's New Year's tweet, accusing Pakistan of sheltering terrorists.

"Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by U.S. State Dept on today's phone call", the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.

The U.S. readout of the call stated that Pompeo "raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan".

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He said that the discretionary allocation of funds by the prime minister and the president and other officials was also stopped by the Cabinet.

Amidst controversy regarding the central government refusing any foreign assistance for the Kerala flood relief, newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday expressed his grief for the many lives lost in the flood-hit south Indian state and also assured to "provide any humanitarian assistance" if required. "This should be corrected immediately".

Secretary Pompeo is expected to visit Pakistan September 5, the foreign minister added.

Relations between the US and Pakistan have deteriorated since US President Donald Trump's administration began taking a hard line on Afghanistan past year.

"We have to understand the needs of Americans in Afghanistan if we want to improve ties with the United States", the new foreign minister said Friday.

The Pakistani foreign minister said Pakistan's "strained ties" with the USA have seen highs and lows and that the new government is determined to work to improve the relationship.