Washington: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wants a “great relationship” with Pakistan and is looking forward to meeting the new leadership in that country. Trump told his Cabinet colleagues in the same meeting that he has ended USD 1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan because “this South Asian country houses enemies”. The US President underscored that his administration has initiated peace talks with the Taliban. He also announced that a meeting with the new leadership of Pakistan will take place “very soon”.
Earlier, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who is considered close to President Trump, told CNN in an interview that if Pakistan helped the US in bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations, then the US would focus on counterterrorism and the IS.
The Republican Senator wants the US to offer Pakistan a free trade agreement as an incentive for Islamabad to push the Taliban to the peace table to end the Afghan war. Trump alleged that Pakistan has not been fair to the United States. “We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy. They take care of the enemy. We just can’t do that,” Trump said.
“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future. But I ended USD 1.3 billion that we paid. I think it was water, we were just paying to Pakistan. So, I ended that,”
Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s Prime Minister in August last year. The cricketer turned politician had said in January last year that meeting US President Trump would be a “bitter pill” to swallow should he become Pakistan’s prime minister in elections later that year, but added “I would meet him.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had met Prime Minister Khan in Islamabad in September last year and pressed him to take “sustained and decisive measures” against terrorists threatening the regional peace and stability.
Just a month ago, Trump had written a letter to Khan, seeking Pakistan’s help with stuttering Afghan peace talks and support in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the 17-year brutal war in the neighbouring country.