U.S. State Dept says working closely with Pakistan on recovery of hostages

ISLAMABAD – The United States is working closely with Pakistan on recovery of American hostages, U.S State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus has said.
“We are, of course, working closely with the Pakistanis on recovering them,” the State Department spokesperson said at a press briefing held Thursday in Washington D.C., when sought update on the ‘good news about U.S hostages’ shared by Prime Minister Imran Khan with President Donald Trump in their recent meeting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had told President Trump that “we will be giving you good news about the two hostages” without naming them, however later in an interview said he was referring to an American and an Australian kidnapped by Taliban.
Pakistan in its role as a facilitator of peace process, was making continuous efforts to bring Taliban, the Afghan government and other stakeholders inlcluding the U.S. at dialogue table.
Terming as ‘helpful’ the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the spokesperson hoped Pakistan would take an appropriate action.
“The prime minister did say that. We think his statements were helpful and we’re of course hopeful that there will be some action proceeding those statements,” she said.
The State Department spokesperson said the U.S. administration had a very strong record on getting American hostages returned.
“We take human lives incredibly seriously, and we will use every means available at our disposal to secure and to see the secure and safe return of American citizens who are held hostage abroad,” she said.
On future prospects of U.S-Pakistan relations following the meeting between U.S President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan, she said the initial meeting gave chance for the President and Secretary to build a “personal connection and rapport” with Prime Minister Khan.
“Now we think it’s time to make progress on the success of this first meeting,” she said.
She said one of the important topics during the discussion was the Afghan peace.
“I would note one of the things that the prime minister says that he vowed to urge the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan Government. We are committed to peace in Afghanistan. We think that was an important step,” she said.
To a question why the U.S did not come up to the expectations of Afghan people in ending war in their country, Ortagus said, “The people of Afghanistan should know that for almost 20 years, Americans have lost their lives and have spent their hard-earned taxpayer money to see the people of Afghanistan have a choice for their own future.”
She said this had not been a small commitment, but “a vast and sweeping commitment by the American people.”
Asked if the U.S. had changed its policy on the Kashmir issue as President Trump offered mediation between Pakistan and India, Ortagus said, “I don’t have anything to say beyond the President’s statement.”