United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he wanted a “great relationship” with Pakistan and was looking forward to meeting the “new leadership”, but also keeping terror card in mind.
Around this time in 2018, Trump had accused Pakistan of returning only “lies and deceit” for the billions of dollars it received from the US as aid. The chief complaint remained the same, then and now, that Pakistan is not taking decisive action against terrorists based on its soil.
“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,” Trump said, taking questions from reporters ahead of his cabinet’s first meeting of year, the first hour of which was aired live by news channels and publications.
“When we give money to Pakistan,” he said, “$1.3 billion. I ended that. Lot of people don’t know that — because they (Pakistan) haven’t been fair to us.”
But the president has showed a willingness to engage with the Pakistani leadership. “So, I look forward to meeting with the folks from… the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future.”
Trump administration has conveyed to the Imran Khan government the primacy it places on counter-terrorism, leading to some initial irritation in Islamabad, which took the unusual step of demanding a revision of a US readout of the first phone call between Khan and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that said they had discussed terrorism as well.