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July 20, 2019

Imran, Trump to have two meetings

Top Story

July 20, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will hold two separate meetings with Pakistani delegation at the White House, including a one-on-one with Prime Minister Imran Khan and another with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa in attendance.

The small meeting will be in the Oval office, while the extensive meeting will take place at the Cabinet Room, where Pakistan tends to express its agenda of regional peace, stability and economic prosperity along with plans to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

"There could be a number of wish lists until the two parties are serious to address issues. We are very clear that we are not stuck in talking-points of the past. This is a new government, this is a new mandate, a new thinking and there would be a new approach. Pakistan's interests will be given priority," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while unveiling Prime Minister Imran Khan's official schedule, at the embassy here on Friday.

The foreign minister announced that Pakistan's civil and military leadership are on the same page adding that in the past, an impression of civil-military disconnect usedto be portrayed, but today there's no disconnect and all stakeholders are keeping the country's interests and challenges foremost and moving forward. "This is a big change in approach. Now there's better understanding, there's coordination, synchronisation, discussion and trust level; and there's no trust deficit between the two. Perhaps there was no such trust level in the past that we can witness today," he said.

Qureshi insisted that Pakistan is not seeking loans or aid money but an honest dialogue. "We are not here to borrow or ask for any aid. We have realistic approaches towards expectations. We are here with honour, dignity and will not compromise on the country's sovereignty or interest," he said.

The Trump administration and the government of Pakistan have found convergence on policies for peace in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said adding that Islamabad will move forward with honesty; and if there's no convergence on certain areas, we will try to understand each other's point of view.

"Pakistan's peace in linked to Afghanistan's peace," the foreign minister said further that the US has realised that Pakistan is not an obstacle to bring peace in Afghanistan but an ally. For stability in the region Pakistan wishes to have good relations with India as well, he said mentioning that Pakistan dealt with the Palwama incident tactfully and the US as well as other friendly countries helped defuse the situation.

He emphasised that Pakistan and the United States have moved from coercion to cooperation and managed to fail India's attempt to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and otherwise. "Now the policy has changed and as a result Pakistan has moved from isolation to invitation," he said.

Qureshi added that Pakistan aligns and agrees with recommendations forwarded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has taken serious and significant steps accordingly. "We want the Trump administration to recognise our efforts. What we are saying is, that no political government has taken such bold steps that this government has taken. What the US demands from us, we already agree on that, and that’s the convergence and that's why we are progressing," he said.

He also said that Pakistan is open to US investment in CPEC and its economic zones as well, while requesting that the US should revise its travel advisory towards the country. Commenting on the US aggressive policies towards Iran, the foreign minister said that Pakistan wants to keep its Iran border peaceful, and thinks that there should be a diplomatic solution to the issue.

Imran Khan will reach Washington on Saturday early evening, and start his tight busy meeting schedule right away. His meeting with President Trump will take place on July 22 around noon, where the two leaders will discuss bilateral and regional issues. The prime minister will also meet administration officials, members of the US Congress, business leaders from various American companies, US Pakistan Business Council, and address a local think tank as well as Pakistani caucus.

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