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White House Ends Confusion Over Pakistani PM’s U.S. Visit

10 Jul 2019 Gandhara - RFE/RL

The White House has said that U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan later this month.

The July 10 statement ends confusion over the visit a day after the U.S. State Department said it was unaware of Khan’s plans.

“The visit will focus on strengthening cooperation between the United States and Pakistan to bring peace, stability, and economic prosperity to a region that has seen far too much conflict,” the statement said.

The White House says Trump and Khan will discuss a range of issues “including counterterrorism, defense, energy, and trade, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between our two countries.”

Earlier on July 10, Pakistan’s foreign office scrambled to explain why populist Prime Minister Khan’s potential hosts in Moscow and Washington were unaware of his upcoming trips to their countries.

“We wish to caution against speculation about PM’s visit,” Mohammad Faisal, a spokesman 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.”

His statement about Khan’s visit to Washington followed a July 9 statement by State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who 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 Khan would visit Washington on Trump’s invitation 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.”

In a separate development, earlier on July 9, Faisal said media reports about Khan’s participation in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in the eastern Russian port city of Vladivastok in September 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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