June 26, 2019 / 5:33 PM / 19 days ago

Pompeo says remains hopeful Pakistan will crack down on Islamist militants

MUMBAI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a trip to India on Wednesday that he remained hopeful that neighboring Pakistan would chose the “right course” in cracking down on Islamist fundamentalists.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Foreign Ministry in New Delhi, India, June 26, 2019. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS

The United States and Britain have long urged Pakistan to deal with militant groups. India alleges that Pakistan, its arch-enemy, had a hand in a suicide bombing that nearly sparked a full-blown conflict earlier this month.

Pakistan has consistently denied playing any role.

In an interview with broadcaster India Today, Pompeo said he had discussed Pakistan in his meetings in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“I think this administration has been very clear to Pakistan our expectation. They cannot be supporting terror, whether that is cross-border terror between Afghanistan or Pakistan or whether it’s terror that emanates from Pakistan and comes to this country,” Pompeo said.

He said the Trump administration had taken the threat from Pakistan “far more seriously” than the administration of former president Barack Obama.

“We still have a lot of work to do. But as a diplomat I always remain hopeful that Pakistan will choose the right course. I think for the Pakistani people it is the best outcome,” Pompeo added.

India claimed a diplomatic victory in May when a U.N. Security Council committee blacklisted the head of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Masood Azhar.

His group claimed responsibility for a February suicide bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in the Indian-controlled part of the disputed Kashmir region, an attack that brought the nuclear-armed neighbors close to war.

Pakistan maintains that the insurgency in the disputed region is being fought by Muslim separatists from India’s side of Kashmir.

Pompeo said Azhar’s case had been discussed, but he declined to be drawn into specifics on other individuals.

“Suffice to say we know precisely who these bad actors are,” Pompeo said.

Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Catherine Evans

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