By Shumaila Andleeb

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet the President of United States Donald Trump on July 22 with an agenda of “refreshing bilateral relations”.

The Prime Minister is undertaking the visit to Washington D.C on the invitation of the US President, Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal said at a weekly press briefing.

The Spokesman said the agenda of the meeting was being developed through diplomatic channels.

“The focus will be to refresh the bilateral relationship,” he said when asked about Pakistan’s expectations from the maiden official visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the
US since he assumed the government in last August.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told reporters that the talks between Prime Minister Khan and President Trump would focus on “important regional matters”.

The meeting is significant as Pakistan has recently facilitated the talks between the U.S. and Taliban, with a statement by the Foreign Office that Pakistan would continue to do so for an Afghan-inclusive solution to the problem.

Also, the U.S administration has designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as Specially Designated Global Terrorist ahead of PM Khan’s visit to Washington.

“It is an acknowledgment of Pakistan’s stance,” the FO Spokesman said when asked if the step was a goodwill gesture on part of the U.S.

“The US has realized and acknowledged the point raised by us [against BLA], and we will continue our efforts in this direction,” he said.

On reports of Taliban leaders soon visiting Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Spokesman said, “I cannot comment on the visit, but can say that Pakistan has played a pivotal role in facilitating and taking forward the peace process.”

“We are doing this in good faith and shared responsibility. The ultimate decision regarding political settlement is in the hands of Afghans,” he said.

About the upcoming meeting of Taliban and Afghans in Qatar on Sunday, the Spokesman said Pakistan continued pressing the need for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and hoped that the talks would ultimately “lead to result-oriented intra-Afghan dialogue”.

He recalled that during the recent visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to a forward-looking approach and to strengthen ties on areas of mutual interest including trade, economy, culture and education.

He said effective utilization of the existing economic mechanism including regular meetings of the Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Council and opening of Torkham border for 24 hours, was discussed in particular.