Pakistan PM Imran Khan To Meet Donald Trump At While House; Counter-Terrorism Top Agenda

Washington: US President Donald Trump will meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on July 22 and they would discuss a range of issues, including counter-terrorism, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia, the White House announced on Wednesday. President Trump will welcome Prime Minister Khan to the White House on July 22, it said in a brief statement. The visit will focus on strengthening cooperation between the US and Pakistan to bring peace, stability, and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict, it said.

“President Trump and Prime Minister 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 added.

The statement came hours after the State Department said that the White House was yet to confirm “reports” of the meeting between the two leaders, in a diplomatic embarrassment to Islamabad after it announced the premier’s first visit to America. Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal during his weekly press conference in Islamabad on June 4 had announced that Prime Minister Khan will make his maiden trip to the US on the invitation of President Trump.

Asked to comment on 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 earlier 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 US side. As per practice, formal announcements are made at the appropriate time,” he said. The Foreign Office in a statement on Wednesday night said that Prime Minister Khan will visit the US on July 21-23 on the invitation of President Trump.

This would be the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the US since both leaders assumed their respective offices, the statement said. During the visit, Prime Minister Khan and President Trump would have wide-ranging interaction at the White House on July 22 covering bilateral and regional matters, it said. The prime minister will also be meeting prominent members of the US Congress, corporate leaders and opinion makers as well as members of the Pakistani diaspora.

“During his various engagements in Washington, Khan will outline his vision of ‘Naya Pakistan’ and underscore the importance Pakistan attaches to a broader and multi-faceted relationship with the US,” it said. In the regional context, Khan will underscore Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability and the importance of constructive engagement to promote a political solution in Afghanistan, the Foreign Office 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,” it said. “Prime Minister Khan’s visit will help renew and reinvigorate long-standing ties between Pakistan and the US. 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 said.

In September, Khan will travel to New York to represent Pakistan at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA. It would be his first UNGA session since he assumed office in August 2018.