Washington: US President Donald Trump early on Thursday said that he wants a “great relationship” with Pakistan and is looking forward to meeting the country’s new leadership.
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”.
Despite inviting Pakistan to play a more active role in Afghanistan, Trump was reported to have said his Cabinet colleagues in the same meeting that he cut $1.3 billion aid to the South Asian country “because they haven’t been fair to us.”
It is worth mentioning here that Trump, a month ago, had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran 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.
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 the militant groups threatening the regional peace and stability.
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 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.
While during a press conference at the White House, Trump blasted the United States’s extended involvement in Afghanistan, where it has waged its longest war against the militant group. He said that Washington was currently in talks with various actors, including the Taliban, in search of peace, but then called on regional powers to step up.
“India is there, Russia is there, Russia used to be the Soviet Union, Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan,” Trump said in response to questions over whether he planned to scale down US military presence in the war-torn country.