Friday 12 July 2019 12:59 AM UTC
Islamabad July 12: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first meeting with US President Donald Trump on July 22 will help “renew and reinvigorate” the bilateral ties and he would highlight the importance of resolving “disputes” through dialogue and promoting peace in South Asia, Pakistan’s foreign office has said.
Ending the confusion, the White House and Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday announced Prime Minister Khan’s maiden visit to the US at the invitation of President Trump.
The ministry said that Prime Minister Khan will visit the United States of America on July 21 to 23.
“This would be the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since both leaders assumed their respective offices,” it said.
During the visit, Mr Khan and President Trump would have wide-ranging interaction at the White House on July 22 covering bilateral and regional matters.
Geo News, quoting diplomatic sources, claimed the visit had been finalised after hectic behind-the-scene efforts by the two sides through the diplomatic channels.
Trump’s willingness to host Imran suggests that the two sides might have made forward movement on certain thorny issues, particularly on Afghanistan, the report quoted observers as saying.
President Trump has been critical of Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism, especially Islamabad’s role in war-ravaged Afghanistan. The Trump administration has suspended security and other assistance to Pakistan, saying Islamabad in return has given only “lies and deceit.”
Officials said Mr Khan would share his perspective on the Afghan endgame as well as how to build trust between the Pakistan and the United States.
During his various engagements in Washington, the Prime Minister will outline his vision of ”Naya Pakistan” and underscore the importance Pakistan attaches to a broader and multi-faceted relationship with the United States, the foreign office statement said.
In the regional context, Mr Khan will underscore Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability and the importance of constructive engagement to promote a political solution in Afghanistan, it said.
He will also highlight Pakistan’s “policy of ”peaceful neighbourhood” aimed at resolving disputes through dialogue and promoting the vision of peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia and beyond,” the statement said, in an apparent reference to the Pakistan-India tensions, especially after the Pulwama terror attack.
“The Prime Minister’s visit will help renew and reinvigorate long-standing ties between Pakistan and the United States,” the statement said.
“It will contribute towards building a broad-based, long-term and enduring partnership between the two countries on the basis of mutual interest and mutual benefit,” it added.
In Washington, the White House said, President Trump will welcome Mr Khan and his visit will focus on strengthening cooperation between the United States and Pakistan to bring peace, stability, and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict.
President Trump and Mr Khan will discuss a range of issues, including counter-terrorism, defence, energy, and trade, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between our two countries, the White House statement said.
Interestingly, the White House statement came hours after the State Department on Wednesday said that the White House was yet to confirm “reports” of the meeting between the two leaders, after Islamabad officially announced Mr Khan’s first visit to America on June 4.
Asked to comment on Mr Khan’s schedule in Washington, state department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told journalists on Wednesday that she would reach out to the White House to confirm or not confirm the visit.
“To my knowledge, that has actually not been confirmed by the White House.
I know that I have read the same reports that you have, but I would reach out to the White House to confirm or not confirm that visit, but that’s – we don’t have anything to announce here from the State Department,” Ortagus said.
Soon after her comments, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Faisal tweeted that, “We wish to caution against speculation about PM’s visit.
“We are in close contact with the U.S. side. As per practice, formal announcements are made at the appropriate time,” he said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other leaders will accompany Prime Minister Khan during the visit, Pakistani media reported.
In September, Mr Khan will travel to New York to represent Pakistan at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It will be Mr Khan’s first address to the UNGA session since he assumed office in August 2018.
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