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July 23, 2019

Trump offers mediation on Kashmir

Top Story

July 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: In a pleasant departure from his past stance, US President Donald Trump on Monday said Pakistan never lied and that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted him to mediate on the Kashmir issue. Trump had tweeted last January that Pakistan had given nothing to the US in return except lies and deceit.

On arrival at the White House, President Trump shook hands with Imran Khan and patted on his arm.

The two leaders waved to the PTI supporters gathered outside the White House before heading inside for a meeting.

Speaking with reporters at the Oval Office after welcoming Prime Minster Imran Khan, the president hoped improvement in the Pakistan-US relations. Sitting next to Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Trump said, “Pakistan never lies.”

Asked why he had accused Pakistan of not supporting the US position 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 [...] but now I think Pakistan could have done a lot [in the past] but it chose not to just because they didn't respect US leadership," he said.

"We were paying $1.3 billion as aid for many years but the problem was that Pakistan — it was before you [PM Imran] — was not doing anything for us. They were really, I think, subversive.

"To be honest, we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying that money. But all of that can come back depending on what we work out [...] and I think at the end of this, the end of very short time, we can have a very great relationship with Pakistan,” said Trump.

Trump said he had a winning strategy on the war in Afghanistan.

“I could win that war in a week,” Trump said of the conflict that has stretched on for nearly 18 years.

“I don’t want to kill 10 million people.... Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the earth. I don’t want to go that route. ... I have a plan that could win that war in a very short period of time.”

“We have been acting like police,” he said, adding that the Afghans need to fix their system and not anyone else.

Trump said Pakistan could help play a role in stabilising Afghanistan after a possible US pullout.

Prime Minister Imran said he had maintained all along that there was no military solution to the Afghan issue and urged the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and talk to the Afghan government.

In an almost over half an hour exchange, both leaders addressed various regional and bilateral issues.

President Trump announced that Indian Prime Minister Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue and said he was willing to do so if PM Khan agreed to it.

Prime Minister Imran told President Trump that he would have the prayers of more than a billion people in case of mediation.

He said being the most powerful country in the world, the US could play the most important role in bringing peace to the Sub-continent.

"There are over a billion and quarter people in the Sub-continent, they are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir, and I feel that only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together.

"From my point, I can tell you we have tried our best, we have made all overtures to India to start a dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue, but unfortunately we haven't made headways as yet. But I am hoping that President Trump would push this process," he said.

“The US can play an important role in bringing peace in the Sub-continent. The resolution of Kashmir dispute is important for the region,” Khan said.

Trump also said the US was willing to invest in Pakistan and sees great trade opportunities there. He also talked about expanding trade "10, 20 times".

He said better economic and trade relations with Pakistan would help combat terrorism as well.

Asked if he would ever go to Pakistan, Trump joked that while he had yet to be invited by PM Imran, he would "love to" visit one day.

Answering a question about the Indian infiltration in Balochistan, Trump said he had good relations with Prime Minister Modi, and ‘I think we are going to have a phenomenal relationship with the prime minister of Pakistan.’

“I do think it’s a two way street, you know, you say that India is coming and destabilising Pakistan. India is saying that Pakistan is destabilizing, so there’s a lot of room where we can meet,” said President Trump.

He praised Pakistan adding that Pakistanis were hardworking people.

"It is a great country, they are very great people. I have many friends from Pakistan though they are all in New York. They are great people, smart, tough — they are tough, there is no question about that. They are like him [pointing to PM Imran], they are tough," said Trump.

A number of times he offered Pakistan to have aid from the money he’s saving from other countries and contracts.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the White House said, “President Donald J Trump is working to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan on issues that are vital to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the South Asia region.

“Today, President Trump is welcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan to the White House.

“President Trump and Prime Minister Khan discussed a range of issues, including counterterrorism, defense, energy, and trade.

“The United States is committed to creating the conditions necessary for a peaceful South Asia.

“President Trump wants to build stronger economic and trade ties with Pakistan, which would benefit both of our countries, as we make progress on core United States security concerns.

“CHARTING A PATH TO PEACE AND STABILITY: President Trump has made clear that he wants to see peace and stability in the region.

“The President acknowledges the initial steps Pakistan has taken to improve regional security and counter terrorism.

“Pakistan has made efforts to facilitate the Afghanistan peace talks, and we are going to ask them to do more.

“The path to a strong and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States lies in working together to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has taken some steps against terrorist groups operating within Pakistan.

“It is vital that Pakistan take action to shut down all groups once and for all.

“BUILDING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY: The United States and Pakistan enjoy a strong economic partnership that benefits both of countries.

“The United States and Pakistan set a new record for bilateral trade in 2018 of $6.6 billion.

“The United States exports to Pakistan reached a record high of $2.8 billion in 2018, supporting approximately 10,000 American jobs.

“The United States is the largest export market for Pakistan’s goods.

“Our trade relationship with Pakistan has been especially beneficial for American farmers.

“The United States exported $1.4 billion in agricultural products to Pakistan in 2018.

“Over the past 15 years, the United States has been one of the top five investors in Pakistan.

“American energy producers are seeing more and more business opportunities with Pakistan.

“American companies are incorporating cutting-edge technologies into energy projects throughout Pakistan.

“American companies have competed to win more than $3 billion in energy-related business in Pakistan.

“Pakistan has purchased extensive amounts of American liquefied natural gas (LNG), including 22.8 billion cubic feet of LNG from March 2017 to April 2019.

“ExxonMobil reestablished its presence in Pakistan in 2018 after 27 years and is working to increase LNG imports.”