ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to travel to the United States in the third week of July on a maiden visit where he would have first face-to-face sitting with President Donald Trump.
Official sources confirmed on Friday that the prime minister would begin his five-day trip from July 20.
The trip, originally planned in June, was postponed because of the PM’s prior domestic engagements, ie federal budget 2019.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday told reporters that a meeting between PM Imran and Trump was expected soon. He, however, did not share the date of the PM’s visit.
Qureshi said PM Imran would be visiting Washington on the invitation of President Trump, who wanted to discuss important regional issues.
This would be the first high-level engagement between the two countries under the Trump administration’s tenure, and comes at a time when talks between the US and Afghan Taliban are thought to have entered decisive phase.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained strained since Trump took charge of the White House. Trump, highly critical of Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and overall war on terror, suspended the security and other assistance to Pakistan.
Last year he and PM Imran had a war of words on Twitter after the US president repeated his allegations against Pakistan for “playing a double game”.
Pakistani officials, however, feel that direct interaction between PM Imran and Trump can help address some of the misgivings.
There is a sense in the government circles that Trump might have been misled by hardliners within his administration.
PM Imran also has his own take and vision on Afghanistan and some of the other regional issues.
Officials said the prime minister will take this opportunity to convey both Pakistan’s concerns as well as willingness to seek better relationship with the US.
Also, the unconventional style of both PM Imran and Trump may add a new flavour to the upcoming meeting between the two leaders.