Counter-terrorism is expected to figure significantly in US President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan here on July 22, according to an announcement of their meeting by the White House on Wednesday.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Khan will discuss a range of issues, including counterterrorism, defense, energy, and trade, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between our two countries,” White House press secretary said in the first US statement on the visit, that was announced by Islamabad earlier in the week.
The visit is expected to “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”.
Trump will receive Khan as the White House on July 22.
Though this will be their first meeting, they have exchanged harsh messages on social media. Keeping up his attacks on Pakistan, which started in 2017, Trump greeted the new Pakistani leader in 2018 with a string of tweets and remarks on the same lines, basically arguing Pakistan has been deceitful in accepting American aid and abetting terrorism targeting at the America at the same time.
Khan shot back in that exchange of tweets in November, 2018, accusing Trump of making “false assertions” and blaming Pakistan for its America’s failures in Afghanistan.
Things settled down subsequently between them and Trump wrote a letter to Khan in December seeking his help in bringing reconciliation and peace to Afghanistan. And Islamabad has offered some help to the new US peace push led by Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Though there was no mention of Afghanistan in the White House statement, Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at Wilson Center said, “The issue of Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s role in the peace and reconciliation process, will be front and center and will set the tone for the meeting on the whole.”
He added: “The Trump administration has signaled on several occasions that it looks favorably upon the possibility of broadening the relationship with Pakistan beyond security and into the realms of trade and investment. In reality, in the White House’s view, this will have to wait until two key issues—reconciliation in Afghanistan and Pakistan-based terrorism—are addressed to Washington’s satisfaction.”__Hindustan Times