US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate on the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, a move that would signal a shift in long-standing US policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.
After shaking hands and pausing for photos, as a large number of Pakistani-Americans gathered outside, Trump welcomed Khan into the White House. The Pakistani leader held a one-on-one meeting with the US head-of-state, wherein the latter offered to mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
“I will say that we have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship was strained a little bit … maybe a lot,” Trump said. “But we will be talking about India, it will be a big part of the conversation today.”
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” the US president added.
In addition, Khan said: “The USA is the most powerful country in the world and it can play a very important role for peace in the subcontinent. “Over a billion people at moment are held hostage to Kashmir situation and I believe that President Trump can bring two countries together,” the PM added.
President Trump said the US is willing to invest in Pakistan and sees great trade relationship between the two countries. He also said that Washington is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan.
Trump held out the possibility of restoring US aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.
To a question asking him about his own unfavourable views about Pakistan in the past, Trump said, “I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States [in the past]. I don’t think Pakistan respected its [the United States’] presidents. I think Pakistan could have done a tremendous amount with respect to Afghanistan: they didn’t do it — another blame game because they were dealing with the wrong presidents — who knows?
“I think they could have helped us a lot in the past, but it doesn’t matter [now]. We have a new leader, he is going be a great leader of Pakistan. We have a sort of new leader here [in the US] … but now I think Pakistan could have done a lot [in the past] but it choose not to just because they didn’t respect US leadership,” he said.
In reply to a question on whether he would ever go to Pakistan, which he at one point described as a “wonderful country”, Trump joked that while he had yet to be invited by PM Imran, he would “love to” visit one day. Prime Minister Imran also highlighted Pakistan’s own sacrifices in the so-called ‘War on Terror’, reminding Trump that Pakistan had lost 70,000 people and billions of dollars due to the conflict.
“We have great potential for relations with Pakistan, I honestly think ties between our two countries have never been better,” he said. “I have lots of Pakistani friends… they’re really tough and smart people,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran told President Trump there was only one solution for Afghanistan and that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been. He said he hoped in the coming days to be able to urge the Taliban to continue the talks.The trip was originally planned in June but was postponed because of the PM’s prior domestic engagements, including the federal budget. Pakistani officials, however, feel that direct interaction between PM Imran and Trump can help address some of the misgivings.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant on Overseas Zulfikar Bukhari and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, are accompanying the Prime Minister.
“The purpose of the visit is to press for concrete cooperation from Pakistan to advance the Afghanistan peace process and to encourage Pakistan to deepen and sustain its recent effort to crackdown on militants and terrorists within its territory,” a senior US administration official told Reuters.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States wants to make clear to Pakistan that it is open to repairing relations if Pakistan changes how it handles “terrorists and militants.
”In Afghanistan, the official said, the peace process is at a critical point and