NEW YORK - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan was trying to reconnect with the United States, its old ally, as Washington's priorities had changed in the region where it had forged a strategic relationship with India,

"You can have new friends, but why lose old friends," he posed the question at a large gathering of American academics, analysts, international affairs students and journalists at Asia Society in New York on Friday.

The foreign minister said Pakistan wanted peace in the region, but on the other hand, India was trying to escape from a dialogue. The US, he added, could play a role in resolving the outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India.

Qureshi also said Pakistan wanted to play a positive role in Afghanistan, but that Afghanistan was not the only responsibility of it. Responding to question about the state of US-Pakistan relations, he said, "I'm here to reconnect."

He said he was meeting US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Washington on October 2, pointing out that the decision to hold these follow-up talks was taken during the US top diplomat's visit to Islamabad earlier this month.

During Pompeo's visit to Pakistan, he said there was a good exchange of views between the two sides on matters of mutual concern.

Pompeo interacted with the country's civil and military leadership and found them on the same page.

Noting that US priorities had changed and that it had a new friend in the region - India, Qureshi said, adding "But please understand the value of long-standing friendship with Pakistan."

"Pakistan and the US can't do without each other. Have new ones but why lose old friends?," the minister added. "We need to see how to manage this new relationship [with the US] and expectations."

Qureshi stressed the need for strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries, and not just connect with each other over Afghanistan.

Currently, he remarked, adding "The road to Washington is via Kabul."

He said the Trump administration had the right to choose new partners. "Today India is their strategic partner.

But let me remind you that whenever US stood with Pakistan, it benefitted," he added, referring to the Cold War era and Pakistan's vital contribution in defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and also standing with Washington in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Qureshi, however, expressed concerns that the Taliban were regaining foothold in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan had lost the most in the war against terrorism. "We've lost over 70,000 lives for this cause," he added.

In response to a question about maintaining a balance while keep strong bilateral ties with the US and China, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshisaid China understood the history of Pakistan's relationship with the US and had no issues regarding this.

Commenting on the Pakistan-India ties, he said he was disappointed by India's reaction to the peace gestures from Prime Minister Imran Khan. Qureshi, however, stressed that Pakistan was still ready for talks. "Whenever you're ready, Pakistan will not shy away."

The minister said an honest and candid approach would be adopted by the new government of Imran Khan when it came to the ties with Afghanistan.  The civil and military leadership of Pakistan, he said, was on the same page to address all issues concerning the nation after a long time.

"However, we'll be careful before committing [to the US administration] because disappointments come when promises are not met," he stated. "Pakistan desires peace in Afghanistan … it is in our national interest."

To a question, he maintained the Indian leadership was reluctant to engage in dialogue with Pakistan due to domestic politics and upcoming general elections in the country.

He said the overseas Pakistanis, who had experienced democratic norms in countries they were settled in, wanted the same thing back home. "Prime Minister Imran Khan has rekindled the hope in youth.

They have pinned hopes in the PTI government. People want honest leadership and institutional rebuilding and want to see an end to the dynastic politics," he added.

INP adds: US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells has said that President Donald Trump was disappointed after no headway was made with Pakistan over negotiations with Taliban.

"The US president had directed that we work together with Pakistan to bring Taliban to the negotiating table, however, he was disappointed after no headway was made," Wells said while speaking to a private TV news channel.

"We have still not found a way to work more closely with Pakistan to ensure Taliban come to the negotiation table," she added. Wells asserted, “These set of issues will continue to be important.”

“I can assure you through my own efforts that we are always looking for opportunities to strengthen our relationships,” the US diplomat added.

Regarding Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's scheduled meeting in Washington, Wells said "They will discuss important points regarding strong partnership."

“The most important issue between the two countries is how to work on bilateral relations,” she asserted.

Wells further said, “There are investment opportunities in energy and other sectors in Pakistan and US is looking forward to strengthening its trading ties.” Moreover, she emphasised on working towards stability in Afghanistan.

A day earlier, in an interview with BBC, Wells had said that US wants "positive and constructive" relations with Pakistan. "Pakistan is an important country in the region [South Asia] with an important part to play," she added.

Responding to a question regarding the expectations from the new government in Pakistan, the US diplomat said, “We have the same expectations from Pakistan that we have from other countries in South Asia.”

“We comply with South Asia’s policy of eradicating ‘non-state actors’ and want to eliminate terrorist activities and proxies in the region,” Wells added.