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National

May 19, 2017

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Trump arrives in S Arabia today on maiden foreign trip

Trump arrives in S Arabia today on maiden foreign trip

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is arriving in Saudi Arabia today (Friday) on his first overseas tour where he will deliver a key speech on Islam and meet leaders of Islamic world including Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

However diplomatic sources here claim that maiden meeting between Pakistani prime minister and US president on the sidelines of “Arab Islamic American Summit” will only be introductory in nature.

Pakistan Embassy in Washington is not involved in preparation of the meeting, as is usually the case for a major bilateral meeting between the leaders.

“Foreign Office in Islamabad is overseeing arrangements for prime minister’s tour to Saudi Arabia and his possible meeting with US President Trump and embassy is not involved in the process” a senior official of the embassy told The News.

State Department here has also not issued any comments about the meeting. Ties between the two countries are experiencing a stalemate for the last a few years as Islamabad is increasingly leaning towards China and Russia for its defence and economic needs while Washington is complaining about lack of Pakistan’s cooperation in US war against Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s new ambassador in Washington Aizaz Chauhdry in his recent speeches expressed desires to break the stalemate in ties but maintain that his country wants warmer relations with both China and United States.

After the election of President Trump, United States is reviewing its policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan and the new policy is expected to be approved by the president within weeks. Trump is expected to sign multi-billion dollar deal for arm sale to Saudi Arabia during his visit where he will hold a detailed meeting with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, US media reported.

Trump will also deliver a speech about countering extremism besides meeting with dozens of heads of the Muslim countries and inaugurating a counterterrorism center. According to the Washington Post, the president will also lay his vision for a regional alliance of Islamic countries to fight extremism.

It says the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before the visit.

The paper says that US arms package for Saudi Arabia will include between $98 billion and $128 billion in sale. Over 10 years, total sale could reach $350 billion. The sale include huge upgrades for the Saudi army and navy to include Littoral Combat Ships, THAAD missile defence systems, armored personnel carriers, missiles, bombs and munitions, officials said.

Earlier this week National Security Adviser H R McMaster told media in Washington that Trump would deliver a speech on confronting radical Islam during his visit to Saudi Arabia.  “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilisations and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” McMaster said.

 

 

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