March 17, 2018

Meeting Trump would be a "bitter pill" to swallow: Imran Khan

14 January 2018, 12:43 | Darnell Patrick

Army Chief Says Pakistan 'Felt Betrayed' By US Accusations, Aid Cuts

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Imran Khan, a candidate to become Pakistan's next prime minister, says it would be a "bitter pill" to swallow to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump but that he would reluctantly do it should he become victorious in national elections later this year.

"I am hopeful that Pakistan will do the right thing and turn over the terrorists and honor their commitment", said Steven Goldstein, undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs.

He said that Pakistan is facing serious problems from the elements carrying out attacking from Afghanistan's soil.

"I will dread it, but I will have to swallow the bitter pill and meet him", Khan said.

Khan added that he feels the United States has dishonored the Pakistani soldiers who have been killed fighting insurgents in its volatile tribal regions and the thousands of Pakistanis who have died in terror attacks.

It merits mentioning here that ties between Pakistan and the U.S. worsened after Trump on January 1, in his first tweet of 2018, said that Washington has got nothing but "lies and deceit" from Pakistan despite providing it more than $33 billion in aid since 2002.

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Khan also raised eyebrows when he announced an electoral alliance with Maulana Sami-ul Haq, a firebrand Islamic cleric, whose hard-line Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary taught several of Afghanistan's senior Taliban leaders.

In Washington, a senior State Department official expressed hope that the two countries would come to terms and that Pakistan would meet US requests for the handover of captured terrorism suspects.

"Pakistan had nothing to do with it", he said, adding that he supported co-operation with the U.S. but not co-opting Pakistan's military into a ground battle with its own people in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan.

After hints dropped by Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal on Thursday that the two sides were busy in talks away from media focus, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa received two telephone calls from US Centcom Commander, General Joseph Votel, and a US Senator on Friday expressing optimism that the current turbulence in relations would be a temporary phenomenon.

US and Pakistani officials say neither has happened, and in conversations over the last week the two sides have tried to move past Trump's incendiary rhetoric.

The spokesperson said Pakistan has also apprised the USA to help resolve the matter of Afghan refugees. Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, is also a potential candidate for the prime minister job.

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