President Donald Trump said the United States was watching developments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir “very closely” and was prepared to help if necessary.
Speaking ahead of talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Trump said trade and borders were both critical points for discussion, while Khan said that for him Afghanistan was the top priority.
This is the third meeting of the two leaders in less than a year amid reports that the US and Afghan Taliban are close to striking a peace deal after over yearlong painstaking process.
The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, and Special Assistants to PM Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and Dr Moeed Yusuf in the Swiss city.
Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Ambassador at Large for Investments Ali Jehangir Siddiqui will also join the prime minister in Davos.
“Trade is going to be of very, very paramount importance … and we’re working together on some borders, and we’re talking about Kashmir in relation to what is going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help we certainly will be helping,” said the US president.
“We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely,” he added.
On August 5 last year, India had stripped Occupied Kashmir of the special autonomy it had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order.
Kashmiris see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
Pakistan had strongly condemned the move and vowed to “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by New Delhi.
Khan, an international cricketer before turning to politics, said that while relations with India were important, the most pressing concern was Afghanistan.
“The main issue, of course, is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan,” he said. “Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government.”
Khan is one of at least three leaders Trump is scheduled to meet at Davos. The others include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Iraqi President Barham Salih.
During the talks at the White House last year, Trump had offered mediation between India and Pakistan, saying that Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi has asked him for. However, his statement created a storm in India, forcing New Delhi to reject the officer.
At Davos, the other engagements of the prime minister Imran include his keynote address at the World Economic Forum’s Special Session and his interaction at the Pakistan Strategy Dialogue with CEOs and corporate leaders. On the sidelines, Imran is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders.
“Throughout his engagements in Davos, Prime Minister Imran Khan will share Pakistan’s vision and achievements in the areas of the economy, peace and stability, trade, business and investment opportunities,” according to the Foreign Office.
He will also highlight the current situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s perspective on key regional and international issues, the statement added.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF, which runs until Thursday. The theme for this year’s gathering is ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. At the three-day prestigious event, political leaders, business executives, heads of international organisations and civil society representatives from around the world will deliberate on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues.
(With input from Reuters)