Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet United States President Donald Trump on July 22, said Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal on Thursday.
Dr. Faisal, during his weekly media briefing, said that the premier will be going to Washington on the invitation of President Trump. During the premier’s visit, the focus will be on further improving the ties between the two countries.
This will be Imran Khan’s first visit to the US since assuming power last year following PTI’s victory in the general elections.
The confirmation of the meeting between the two leaders comes a day after the US State Department on Tuesday designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist group, paving the way for similar actions by the United Nations and other states. The same day, it was reported that top 13 leaders of the banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), including its chief Hafiz Saeed and Naib Emir Abdul Rehman Makki, have been booked in nearly two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The United States, which has pressured Pakistan to crack down on militant groups, has offered a $10 million reward for evidence leading to his conviction.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told reporters last month that President Trump had invited the prime minister in June but he could not undertake the visit because of the budget session.
The foreign minister had also said that talks between the two leaders would focus on “important regional matters”. Pakistan has helped the United States in jumpstarting the ongoing US-Taliban dialogue.
In March, Trump said he hoped to meet Pakistani leaders soon as he acknowledged that relations between the two countries are “now very good”.
“Pakistan — we’ll be meeting with Pakistan [leadership]. I think our relationship right now is very good with Pakistan,” he said.
Trump was consistent in his criticism of Pakistan after launching his South Asia and Afghanistan strategy despite multiple attempts made by the two governments to fix the problems in their ties.
In November 2018, a row that began with Trump’s interview to Fox News had led to a series of tweets by both the US head of state and Imran Khan.
President Trump, while talking about the reasons for ending the over a billion dollar annual aid for Pakistan at the beginning of the year, had said the country didn’t do “a damn thing for us”.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Imran had led the sharp reaction by political leaders to Trump’s tirade against Pakistan by hinting at a review of foreign policy options and asking the US president to introspect on the real reasons for America’s failure in Afghanistan.
Trump’s stance on Pakistan, however, softened the next month with him acknowledging in his letter to the premier that the “war had cost both USA and Pakistan”.