President Trump changes tack in meeting with Abbasi

During formal meeting, Abbasi, Pence agree to resume bilateral talks next month


Aamir Ilyas Rana September 20, 2017
PM Abbasi with US Vice President Mike Pence PHOTO: RADIOPAK

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with US President Donald Trump at a reception and had a discussion with him on Afghanistan.

He told the Pak-America Business Council about the meeting, explaining to the attendees that the US president expressed a positive attitude about the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan.

Abbasi said Trump also spoke positively about the continuation of the US-Pakistan partnership.

Earlier, PM Abbasi and US Vice President Mike Pence met on the margins of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday where the two sides resolved to stay engaged and carry forward bilateral relationship that has been on the lowest ebb since the announcement of the new US strategy for Afghanistan and beyond.

The meeting was the first highest-level contact between the two countries since President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghan strategy on August 21. After scathing criticism from the American leader, Islamabad had postponed planned bilateral interactions with Washington.

Tuesday’s meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd General Assembly session in New York was held in a cordial atmosphere, according to a handout issued by the Foreign Office. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua described the talks as ‘good’ and ‘ice-breaker’.

“It was a good meeting,” Janjua told reporters after the 45-minute talks. Both sides discussed issues relating to their bilateral relationship as well as peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, she added.

She described the progress made at the meeting as ‘ice-breaker’. The prime minister shared Pakistan’s concern and views with regard to the US strategy for South Asia. He also voiced concern over a greater role that the new US policy envisages for India, Janjua said.

According to the Foreign Office, Pence greeted Abbasi on behalf of President Trump. “We look forward to exploring ways so that we can work even more closely with Pakistan and with your government to advance security throughout the region,” he said.

Abbasi thanked Pence for the invitation and said he too looked forward to discussing issues of mutual interest, especially the war against terrorism.

“Pakistan has been a long-standing partner and we intend to continue efforts to eliminate terrorism in the area,” he said.

Iranian President Rouhani with PM Abbasi PHOTO: RADIOPAK Iranian President Rouhani with PM AbbasiPHOTO: RADIOPAK

“We have made our contributions, we fought a very difficult war, we suffered casualties and have suffered economic losses and that is the message that we bring to the world,” he said. “We are partners in the war against terrorism.”

Both sides agreed to work together to carry forward the relationship, which has been a historic partnership for the last seven decades.

“The US vice president recalled that the United States valued its relationship with Pakistan,” the statement said. “It has been agreed that the US would send a delegation to Pakistan next month to continue the talks between the two countries.”

Janjua said the prime minister elaborated the points raised by the National Security Committee in which Pakistan categorically rejected allegations contained in Trump’s speech, saying “scapegoating Pakistan will not help bring stability to Afghanistan”.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Foreign Secretary Janjua, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi also attended the meeting.

PM Abbasi heads to New York to represent Pakistan at UN

Meetings with world leaders

Prime Minister Abbasi also held separate bilateral meetings with President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, King Abdullah II of Jordan, British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Hassan Rowhani of Iran.

Talking to Rouhani, Abbasi said Pakistan was pursuing a policy of peaceful neighbourhood. He stressed that increased high-level engagements between the two countries would contribute to the deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation in multiple fields.

President Rouhani reaffirmed Iran’s firm commitment to the strengthening of ties with Pakistan. He also emphasised the need for the two countries to work closely in deepening mutual cooperation in the areas of border management, trade and investment.

Highlighting that Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries were severely affected by the growing instability in Afghanistan, they also emphasised the need for adopting a regional approach for bringing an end to the Afghan conflict.

Meeting with Pence: Abbasi to convey Pakistan's concerns over Afghan policy

During the meeting with the Turkish president, Abbasi emphasised the need for enhancing economic cooperation and working together for early finalisation of the bilateral free-trade agreement. Both the leaders agreed to the revival of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey Trilateral process for promoting lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Afghan offer of dialogue

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appealed on Tuesday to Pakistan to work together to curb extremists, seeing an opportunity as the United States sends in more troops.

PM Abbasi with Turkish President Erdogan PHOTO: RADIOPAK PM Abbasi with Turkish President ErdoganPHOTO: RADIOPAK

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Ghani said US President Donald Trump’s new Afghan strategy sent a signal to the Taliban that they cannot win on the field and must negotiate peace.

“We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty. The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years,” Ghani said.

“We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbours on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism,” Ghani added. “I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state to state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity.”

With additional input from News Desk

COMMENTS (16)

Lakhkar Khan | 4 years ago | Reply @Netizen: - It's the words that matters. Read his speech again if you already did.
VINOD | 4 years ago | Reply The heading "President Trump changes tack in meeting with Abbasi" designed to give a feel as if they had a meeting and The President changed track due to this meeting.
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