Imran Khan Meets Trump at White House, Seeks to Reboot Pak-US Ties
Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense during Trump’s tenure.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the White House for a meeting with US President Donald Trump n Monday, 22 July, ANI reported. Khan, accompanied by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was received by Trump.
Khan arrived in Washington on Saturday, 20 July, on a three-day official trip to the US.
According to PTI, the American leadership is expected to press Khan to take "decisive and irreversible" action against terrorist and militant groups operating from Pakistani soil and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.
The cricketer-turned-politician arrived in Washington on Saturday afternoon aboard a commercial Qatar Airways flight and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.
He was welcomed at the airport by his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A large number of Pakistani Americans also welcomed him.
Khan was received at Dulles International Airport by Acting Chief of Protocol Mary-Kate Fisher, as is standard for an Official Working Visit to the White House, a State Department spokesperson said.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense during Trump's tenure. The US president has publicly said that Pakistan has given “nothing but lies and deceit” and also suspended security and other assistance for backing terror groups.
Pak PM Khan Accompanied by Army Chief Bajwa
Prime Minister Khan, who is undertaking the three-day trip to the US on Trump’s invitation is accompanied by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.
According to PTI, Khan is also expected to meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before returning on 23 July.
Diplomatic sources said that issues like the Afghan peace process, the Pakistan government's action against terrorism and terror financing, and the restoration of military aid to Pakistan will be the highlights of the trip.
Khan to Brief Trump Over Relations with India Post Pulwama
Pakistan PM Khan is expected to brief President Trump about the steps he has taken to normalise relations with India, especially in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir and the Indo-Pak military standoff following the Balakot air strikes, PTI reported.
Pakistan's efforts have been appreciated for facilitating peace talks with the Taliban. Actions like launching of cases of terror financing against Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa are signals aimed at addressing concerns by India and the US.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal earlier this month said that the “agenda of the meeting is being developed through diplomatic channels” but the focus will be on “refreshing bilateral relations.” Efforts for arranging the Imran-Trump meeting have been underway for months.
Saudi’s Role on Arranging ‘Meeting with Trump’
However, The Express Tribune reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a key role in arranging the meeting.
According to officials with direct knowledge of the efforts, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used his personal contacts with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner to arrange the invitation for the prime minister to the White House, the newspaper reported.
Efforts to arrange the prime minister’s trip to the US began in December last year after Trump wrote a letter to Imran, seeking his help to facilitate the Afghan peace process.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is considered close to Trump, is also believed to have played an important role in arranging the parley between the leaders.
An official, who is familiar with the development, told the newspaper that the prime minister was keen to have a face-to-face interaction with Trump because he was of the view that “such a meeting would help dispel many misperceptions the US president may have about Pakistan and its role in the region.”
In March, President Trump indicated his readiness to meet Pakistan's new leadership, amidst the ongoing peace talks between the US and the Taliban, facilitated by Islamabad to end the brutal war in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan, we'll be meeting with Pakistan. I think our relationship right now is very good with Pakistan,” Trump had said at the end of a White House media interaction when a journalist asked him to comment on the current situation between India and Pakistan.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is spearheading efforts to strike a peace deal with the Taliban with the help of Pakistan.
Khalilzad, the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said that Pakistan has an important role to play in Afghan peace talks and cannot be underestimated.
The representatives of the Afghan Taliban, the US as well as officials from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been meeting in Doha, Qatar. The talks were facilitated by Islamabad as Washington continues to seek an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan that has killed over 2,000 US soldiers.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and The Express Tribune)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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