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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to meet US Vice President today

19 September, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is going to meet US Vice President Mike Pence today (Tuesday). The United States suggested Vice President Pence’s meeting with Abbasi as part of their efforts “to re-engage with Pakistan”.

It will be first direct Pakistan-US interaction after the announcement of Afghan and South Asia policy by President Trump that made scathing attack and hurled threats to Pakistan.

Pakistan Ambassador to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi told journalists on Sunday that the Pence-Abbasi talks were likely to take place on Tuesday.

The meeting comes in the wake of unveiling by President Trump of his administration’s policy on Afghanistan and South Asia. The policy lays special emphasis on kinetic operations to subdue the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, envisions greater role for India in Afghanistan and the overall regional security. He had also lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”.

Responding to questions, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry, who was also present at the briefing, said the United States has its own views about Afghanistan and Pakistan has its own position. “We will see how it goes.”

Elaborating, Ambassador Lodhi said Pakistan’s policies, which are based on the country’s national interest, are framed in Islamabad, not in Washington. She said that it had been Pakistan’s consistent position that peace could be restored only through a negotiated settlement.

The prime minister, who arrived here Monday, will go through a tightly laid-out schedule, participating in UN events related to the 72nd session of General Assembly as also some forums on the sidelines of the 193-member body.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said nine bilateral meetings, including with US Vice President Mike Pence, have been confirmed and more could also take place as the prime minister’s visit proceeds.

Other meetings will be with the Jordanian King and leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, the United Kingdom and Nepal. He will also have talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In addition, the prime minister will exchange views with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some American business leaders.

The Assembly has 174 items on its agenda after a new item was inscribed on Friday. It is entitled: “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

Extraordinary security arrangements have been put in place in around the UN Headquarters in New York ahead of the high-level session in which US President Donald Trump will deliver his maiden speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. The US is traditionally the second speaker on the opening day of the General Debate, after Brazil.

On September 21, the prime minister will address the General Assembly which is often called the world parliament. He will outline Pakistan’s positions on key international political, social and development issues of vital concern to the country.

Pakistani diplomats said the prime minister will focus on the Kashmir dispute, Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis and the Afghanistan issue.

The UN visit will be Abbasi’s debut into the highest international diplomacy, after being sworn in as prime minister last month.

On the sidelines of the General Assembly Session, Prime Minister Abbasi will address the Council on Foreign Relations besides interacting with the US Pakistan Business Council. He will also have extensive interaction with the international media.

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