WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday hailed his White House meeting with President Donald Trump as a “pleasant surprise,” saying the Pakistani side was blown over by the U.S. leader’s welcome and conversation.
“It was a pleasant surprise. We were all blown over. We loved the meeting,” Khan said speaking at the US Institute of Peace, a day after more than three hours meetings.
Imran Khan said Pakistan and the U.S. now had the best relationship in years. “Now we will ensure that there is no communication gap,” between the two sides, he said referring to years of trust deficit between the two countries in the past.
He said his government had “stabilized the economy” which he inherited in a state of virtual bankruptcy.
“Now we can move ahead and start reforms,” he said, citing his government’s agenda of improving the education sector, stepping economic growth, expanding tax collection, boosting exports and narrowing fiscal account deficit.
He said Kashmir dispute had held back development in South Asia. Kashmir should be resolved as per aspirations of Kashmiri people, he added.
“There is a solution and the solution has to be with the will of the Kashmiri people.”
He also spoke about Islamabad’s efforts to launch peace bids with India and improve ties with Afghanistan.
The worst phase in the Pakistan-US relationships was over, he said referring to years when the U.S. escalated the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan region and Pakistan fought America’s war on terror at a high human and economic cost, but was still not trusted.
Imran Khan recalled his meetings with Democrats in 2009, and said he tried to explain to them that there was going to be no military solution, but felt they had no understanding of Afghanistan. “Fortunately this time, people now understand,” he said.
“We are all on the same page that is why we have the best relationship now in years,” Imran Khan said regarding President Trump’s ongoing quest to find a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict.
“Peace in Afghanistan will come about through peace talks,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing process of facilitating talks with the Taliban, he said, “If we all work together then this is the best chance for peace in Afghanistan.”
The prime minister said now that he had spoken to President Trump and President Ghani, he would meet Taliban when he went back to Pakistan. The militant group should talk to the Afghan government, he added.