Trump’s visit to India next month won’t include Pakistan: FO

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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday confirmed that US President Donald Trump’s visit to India next month would not include Pakistan.

President Trump “wants an exclusive visit to Pakistan which is not linked to any other visit in the region because Pakistan has its own distinct place,” FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqi said at the weekly media briefing. Mr. Trump is expected to visit India in February. The speculated dates are Feb 24 – 25.

The US president was invited to visit Pakistan by Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Washington in July last year. The debate about Mr. Trump’s visit to Pakistan got renewed during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos when he was asked about his plans to visit Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi increased the expectations by announcing through a statement that Mr Trump would visit Pakistan soon.

Many believe that Mr. Trump’s visit to Islamabad would be linked to progress on the Afghan peace process.

Ms. Farooqi said that she could not give an exact time frame of the visit, as of now, and that it may take place later this year. “The two sides are working on it,” she said.

The spokesperson confirmed that Pakistan was engaged with the US on the issue of a review of Pakistan’s grey list status by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The issue was discussed during a meeting between PM Imran Khan and President Trump in Davos and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, during the PM’s recent visit to Washington.

“Our constant message is that Pakistan has taken a whole range of steps and made huge progress in implementation of the Action Plan,” she said.

The review of Pakistan’s progress on shortcomings in counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes will be undertaken at FATF’s meeting in Paris in February.

Pakistan stays on the grey list was extended for four months at the last FATF meeting in October because of inadequate progress for regaining normal status.

Ms. Farooqi reiterated concerns about the Indian quest for the induction of ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in the region.

“We feel that such destabilizing systems can undermine deterrence and stability in South Asia and lead to an unnecessary arms race. Pakistan has proposed discussions on a strategic restraint regime for South Asia, which includes the proposal to avoid the induction of destabilizing weapons’ systems,” she said.

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