Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to embark on an official four-day visit to the United States next month. There, he will meet with the country’s high-level leadership including President Donald Trump.
Some diplomatic sources have confirmed that the two countries are collaborating to finalize the dates of the visit. Rumor has it that Khan will depart for the US on July 20.
“It is likely, but not final yet,” said a diplomat in response to the question.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an informal conversation with reporters, revealed that the US President Donald Trump had invited PM Khan in June but, he could not go on the visit due to the crucial budget session.
Highlights Of the Visit
“The focus during the meeting of the two dignitaries would be on important regional matters,” the foreign minister said, adding that Pakistan had helped the United States kick-starting talks with Afghan Taliban just when the militant group launched their famous Spring Offensive.
The first few rounds of the talks undertaken without Pakistan’s direct representation (both held in Qatar) did not yield the desired result for the US. The country now wants Pakistan to use its influence and persuade them to hold direct talks with the Afghan government.
Taliban rejected US demand calling the political setup in the country a ‘puppet government’ with no real power.
Pakistan’s Role in Afghan Peace Talks
Meanwhile, Pakistan hosted an intra-Afghan meeting in Bhurban last week in which representatives from all the political and militant forces participated and discussed the all-out Afghan peace. The meeting is being appreciated as the first visible sign that Kabul is becoming acceptable for Taliban.
The meeting has reportedly helped break the ice on US-Taliban talks and the two powers are now resuming the dialogue process in Doha on Saturday (today).
This was followed by the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad who wants his neighboring country’s support in talks with the Taliban.
Breaking the Ice
Observers believe that Pakistan’s continuous and unconditional support for Afghan peace talks might have convinced the American establishment that Islamabad was serious and ready to play a key role in the process.
“Washington feels that a White House visit, at this stage, would further encourage Islamabad to continue supporting the Afghan peace process,” one of the observers said.
Officials on both sides have been expecting a Trump-Khan meet since January this year when President Trump said that a meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan could take place “very soon”.