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Pakistani PM Imran Khan set for first official meeting President Donald Trump


Pakistani PM Imran Khan set for first official meeting President Donald Trump

imran khan trump
Photo: Kyodo News/Madoka Ikegami

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will arrive in Washington today to meet with US President Donald Trump.

Mr Khan’s visit—his first to the United States since coming to power last year—will largely focus on planned US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

However, discussions today will more fundamentally centre on the US’ considerable foreign aid to Pakistan—last fully reported in 2017 at $837 million. While about 34% of the assistance goes to Pakistan’s military, the remainder goes to Pakistan’s economy, specifically infrastructure development and social programmes.

Souring relations between the two countries has underscored the importance of foreign aid to the US as a leveraging tool. Displeased with Pakistani efforts to keep the Taliban at the negotiating table and combat terrorism in the region, Mr Trump suspended millions of dollars in its military aid to Pakistan in 2018.

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The outcome of today’s talks may determine the future of US aid to Pakistan. If the talks go well and Mr Khan and Mr Trump make headway on the Afghanistan issue—namely, by receiving concrete assurances from the Pakistani government that it will no longer tolerate safe havens for suspected militants in the country—expect discussions of restoring cut aid to move forward. If the talks falter, anticipate the opposite—the US may slash even more foreign aid to signal its displeasure with Pakistan.

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