Offers his role as a mediator to resolve Kashmir dispute
President Donald Trump said that Pakistan was helping the US advance the Afghanistan peace process, as he hosted Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday.
“I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States” in the past, Trump said, but “they are helping us a lot now.”
PM Khan was welcomed by US President Donald Trump, as he reached the White House. The premier was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
President Trump also offered his role as a mediator to resolve Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump said. “If I can do anything to help, let me know.”
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“We have a very good relationship with India,” Trump said, adding that he has many friends in Pakistan. “They [Pakistanis] are smart. They are tough,” the US president said in a media talk shortly after welcoming PM Khan to the White House.
“If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” the US president said matter-of-factly. He claimed Afghanistan would be “wiped off the face of the earth” is such a war would take place. “It would be gone… It would be over literally in 10 days,” he said.
“I think Pakistan is going to help us extricate ourselves… we are like policemen, we are not fighting a war,” said Trump.
When asked about the curbs on the country’s media, PM Khan said the country has one of the freest presses in the world. He said that the criticism he had received from his “own press” after becoming the prime minister is unprecedented.
“To say there are curbs on Pakistan’s press is a joke,” PM Khan said.
Pakistan took every step possible to restore peace with India, he told Trump.
PM Khan has sought President Trump’s help to bring peace in the sub-continent. “It is the most powerful country in the World, the United States. It can play the most important role in bringing peace in the sub-continent,” PM Khan told the US president.
He said that the people of the subcontinent are held hostage to the issues of Kashmir. “I feel only the most powerful state headed by president Trump can bring the two countries together,” he said.
“From my point [of view] I can tell you, we have tried our best. We made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences, but unfortunately we haven’t made any headway yet,” he added. “So I am hoping President Trump will push this process forward. You will have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this situation,” Khan told Trump.
He arrived in Washington DC on a three-day visit Sunday along with a high level delegation, on the invitation of Trump.
Talks between the two leaders focused on Afghanistan as the US seeks a peace accord with the Taliban to end more than 18 years of war.
The visit will expand bilateral cooperation on trade and investment as well as work toward peace in South Asia at large and Afghanistan in particular
The US leader is expected to accompany the premier on a tour of the White House, said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi earlier in the day. He added that it will give more time to “mingle and chat”.
In his first visit to the White House since taking power, the former cricket star can expect to hear demands from Trump, who in the past has accused Pakistan of lying and being duplicitous.
What is the goal of the Trump-Imran meeting?
The goal of the visit, said a senior Trump administration official, is “to press for concrete cooperation from Pakistan to advance the Afghanistan peace process.”
The Trump administration also wants to encourage Pakistan to “deepen and sustain its recent effort to crack down on militants and terrorists within its territory,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The United States is pressing for a political agreement with the Taliban before presidential voting in Afghanistan in late September. This would clear the way for most US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and bring an end to America’s longest war.
Washington and Kabul accuse Pakistan of supporting armed extremist groups such as the Haqqani network, which is an ally of the Taliban, by giving it refuge in Pakistani regions along the border with Afghanistan.
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Pakistan denies providing such support and argues that, in fact, it has sustained huge losses in terms of lives and money as it fights extremism.
“We are concerned about the links between these groups and Pakistan’s intelligence services and military,” the administration official said, referring to Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network.
The Pakistanis want to shore up relations with the United States after years of discord.
“One of the big storylines going into the Trump-Khan meeting is the sharp disconnect in expectations,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center.
“Pakistan wants to use the meeting as an opportunity to reset and broaden the relationship. The US has a more narrowly defined goal of securing more assistance from Pakistan for the Afghanistan peace process,” said Kugelman.
How the two leaders interact — neither was a politician before taking power — will also be watched closely.
Before taking power, PM Khan once described the idea of meeting with Trump as a “bitter pill” to swallow.
With additional reporting by AFP. Follow SAMAA English on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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