Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to Washington to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22, the Pakistani foreign ministry said Thursday, a rare visit between leaders of the sometimes prickly allies.
The visit — Khan’s first to the US since coming to power last year — came at Trump’s invitation, a Pakistani foreign office spokesman said at a weekly briefing, adding: “The focus will be to refresh the bilateral relationship”.
He gave no further details.
The announcement comes as the US is seeking Pakistan’s help in finding a way out of neighboring Afghanistan, where American forces are now in their 18th year of war.
Ostensibly allies, the US and Pakistan relationship has always been bumpy.
The White House believes that the shadowy Pakistani military establishment has long helped fund and arm the Taliban, both for ideological reasons and to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.
Pakistan , under khan denies the claims and says it has paid the price for its alliance with the US in the so-called “war on terror”, with thousands of its citizens killed in its long struggle with militancy.
Washington has long believed that a Pakistani crackdown on militancy could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the war.
Trump and Khan — both celebrities-turned-politicians whose love lives once made regular tabloid fare in the US and UK — have already clashed.
Trump declared last year that he had cancelled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars because Islamabad does not do “a damn thing” for the US.
At the time, Khan hit back at the criticism on Twitter, calling on the US president to name an ally that has sacrificed more against militancy.
AFP with additional input from GVS News desk