US President Donald Trump on Monday hinted that he is unlikely to lift the freeze of security assistance to Pakistan till the time he is satisfied with Islamabad's actions against terrorist networks.
"We were paying $1.3 billion to Pakistan in aid for many years. The problem was Pakistan was not doing anything for us," Donald Trump told Prime Minister Imran Khan in his Oval Office during their first meeting.
President Trump quickly clarified that this was before Imran Khan became the prime minister of Pakistan.
"They (Pakistan) were really, I think subversive. They were going against us and this is something we'll be (talking about). I ended that (aid) about a year and a half ago, $1.3 billion," he said.
Ties between the US and Pakistan strained after Donald Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August 2017, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to "agents of chaos" that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has "much to lose" by harbouring terrorists.
"I'll tell you what, to be honest, we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying that money. But all of that can come back depending on what we've worked out. We're working out things that are very important," he said.
"At the end of this meeting, in a very short time, the United States is going to have a very great relationship with Pakistan," he said. "And we should. It's a great country. They're great people. I have many friends from Pakistan. Living in New York, I have a lot of Pakistani friends. They are great people," he said.
Responding to a question, President Trump said that in the last 18 years, Pakistan was not respectful to the US. "I don't think Pakistan respected the United States" in the past, he said, but "they are helping us a lot now."
"They (Pakistan) didn't do it and I don't blame them because they were dealing with the wrong president. Who knows? I think Pakistan could have done (better). They are helping us a lot now. I think they could have helped us a lot in the past," he said.
President Trump said that this does not matter now, as Pakistan now has a new leader.
"We have a new leader (in Pakistan). He is going to be a great leader of Pakistan and we have a new leader here sort of new. I'm two-and-a-half years now getting to be three years leaving... Time flies. But I think Pakistan could have done a lot but they chose not to because they did not respect US leadership," he said.
In a follow up question, Donald Trump told reporters that he would let them know about the results of the talk quickly. "It's not going to be like a long-term thing. I figure things out very quickly," he said.
Hopeful that Pakistan is going to do a lot, he said that Islamabad is going to make a big difference in Afghanistan.
"I think Pakistan will save millions of lives in Afghanistan. Because I really believe they can. They have a power that other nations don't have with respect to Afghanistan. And I will say as of this moment they are working very hard and very nicely," President Trump said.
The Trump administration has intensified its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of America's longest war in Afghanistan where the US has lost over 2,400 soldiers since late 2001, when it invaded the country after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Imran Khan's visit comes at a time when talks between the US and Afghan Taliban are thought to have entered a decisive phase. Pakistan's efforts have been appreciated for facilitating peace talks with the Taliban.
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