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Russia, U.S. Deny Pakistani State Visits

10 Jul 2019 Gandhara - RFE/RL

Pakistan’s foreign office is scrambling to explain why populist Prime Minister Imran Khan’s potential hosts in Moscow and Washington are unaware of his trips to their countries.

The U.S. State Department and the Russian Foreign Ministry either denied or said they were unaware of any plans of Khan’s visit to Washington later this month and his participation in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in the eastern Russian port city of Vladivastok in September.

“We wish to caution against speculation about PM’s visit,” Mohammad Faisal, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, tweeted on July 10. “We are in close contact with the U.S. side. As per practice, formal announcements are made at the appropriate time.”

This pronouncement about Khan’s visit to Washington follows a July 9 statement by State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. She told journalists that Khan’s visit to Washington had not been “confirmed” by the White House.

“I know that I have read the same reports that you have, but I would reach out to the White House to confirm or not confirm that visit, but that’s … we don’t have anything to announce here from the State Department,” she told reporters.

But in a July 4 briefing, Faisal claimed that on the invitation of U.S. President Donald Trump, Khan will visit Washington and meet with him on July 22.

“Agenda of the meeting is being developed through diplomatic channels,” he said, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website. “A detailed curtain raiser will be issued before the visit. The focus would be to refresh the bilateral relationship.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also confirmed the visit.

“Now we have received the invitation for an official working visit,” he told the private Hum News television. “They [the U.S.] have realized Pakistan’s importance and the personality of the prime minister.”

Earlier on July 9, Faisal said media reports about Khan’s participation in the EEF forum were speculative. “Pakistan and Russia remain in contact about engagement at the highest level,” he wrote on Twitter.

His tweet followed a July 8 statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry that denied Khan had been invited to the EEF.

"We are expecting Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to arrive in Vladivostok," Russia’s state-run TASS news agency quoted the country’s foreign office statement as saying.

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