–US president says ‘we have never been closer with Pakistan than we are right now’
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated his desire for mediation by the United States on the Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India.
“The Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to play its part in de-escalating the tensions, because no other country can,” PM Imran said at the start of his meeting with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
This is the third meeting of the two leaders in less than a year amid reports that the US and Afghan Taliban are close to striking a peace deal after over yearlong painstaking process.
“I would say we’ve never been closer than we are right now,” Trump said at the start of meeting with PM Imran. He said the two sides will discuss trade, but also the border issues, Kashmir and India.
“We’re talking about Kashmir […] if we can help, we certainly will be helping. We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely,” said Trump.
The premier, in turn, said: “Mr President, it is good to see you again. Yes, there are issues we want to talk about. The main issue is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan.
“Fortunately we are on the same page. Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with Taliban and the government.”
The US president avoided responding concretely to a question by a reporter whether he will “also visit Pakistan” when he makes a trip to India, instead saying, “Well, we are meeting right now. I wanted to say hello.”
Trump said that from a relationship standpoint, the US and Pakistan “are getting along very well.” “We have never been closer with Pakistan than we are right now.”
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan Media Talk with US President Donald Trump at World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland (21.01.20)#PrimeMinisterImranKhan #Pakistan 🇵🇰 #USA 🇺🇸#Kashmir #WEF20 @ImranKhanPTI pic.twitter.com/5GiRjidvss
— Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) January 21, 2020
On August 5 last year, India had stripped Occupied Kashmir of the special autonomy it had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order.
Kashmiris see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
Pakistan had strongly condemned the move and vowed to “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by New Delhi.
The Imran-Trump meeting comes against the backdrop of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s trip to the United States, where he met with his counterpart to defuse regional tensions.
Prime Minister Imran left for Davos early on Tuesday to attend the annual meeting. He is accompanied by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Special Assistant on National Security Mooed Yusuf and Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, while Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Ambassador at large for Investments Ali Jehangir Siddiqui will join the delegation in Davos.
The prime minister will deliver a keynote address at the WEF special session and also interact with corporate leaders at the Pakistan Strategy Dialogue.
On the sidelines, Prime Minister Imran will hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders, the most significant of which is his meeting with President Trump.
The premier will also hold meetings with a number of corporate, technology, finance and business representatives of international financial institutions.
In addition, he will address senior international media persons and editors during a session with WEF’s International Media Council, say official sources.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the forum where political leaders, business executives, heads of international organisations and civil society representatives will “deliberate on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues.”