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Trump wants to meet Pakistan’s leadership even though it ‘houses the enemy’

January 3, 2019

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he is looking forward to meeting the new leadership of Pakistan soon, however, his statement was followed by disappointment in Pakistan for “housing the enemy”.

“We want to have a great relationship with Pakistan, but they house the enemy. They take care of the enemy. We just can’t do that,” he said.

“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future. But I ended the $1.3 billion that we paid. I think it was water, we were just paying to Pakistan. So, I ended that,” he told his cabinet during a meeting.

During the meeting, Trump also said he had initiated peace talks with the Taliban. The US recently asked Pakistan to help bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table.

It signaled a thawing of ties between the two countries, especially after President Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country “doesn’t do a damn thing for us”.

Related: Trump defends military aid cut to Pakistan, says it ‘doesn’t do a damn thing’ for the US

He also accused the government of helping Osama bin Laden hide in the country. “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer,” he said, referring to bin Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad.

The compound was demolished shortly after United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces killed bin Laden there in 2011.

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added. “And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year . …[bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.

The US cancelled $300 million in aid to Pakistan in September on the pretext that Pakistan had failed to take action against militants. The Coalition Support Funds were part of a broader suspension in aid announced by Trump at the start of the year, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with “nothing but lies and deceit.”

Soon after the aid cut, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Khalilzad was sent by US President Donald Trump to discuss the Afghan peace process.

Related: ‘The US accepts PTI’s stance that there’s no military solution to Afghan problem’

“They want our help to establish peace in Afghanistan and use whatever influence that we have over the [Afghan] Taliban,” he had said.

Earlier on Wednesday, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, who is considered close to President Trump, told CNN that if Pakistan helped the US bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations, the US would focus on counterterrorism and the IS.

The Republican senator wants the US to offer Pakistan a free trade agreement as an incentive for Islamabad to push the Taliban to the peace table to end the Afghan war.


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