Trump and Imran Khan Held Talks about COVID-19 and Peace Settlement in Afghanistan

The relationship between Washington and Islamabad would be renewed since the heads of the two countries held talks to discuss a wide range of issues and had agreed to solve some burning issues together. According to the White House and the Pakistani leader’s office, US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan talked about the global coronavirus spread and the underlying challenges regarding the peace settlement process in Afghanistan.

On Fighting the Global Pandemic

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, Trump and Imran Khan discussed the widespread coronavirus pandemic and agreed to make collective efforts to curb the spread of the virus. White House spokesman Judd Deere said that Trump and Khan “discussed developments in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed to continue working together on a coordinated response to defeat the virus and minimize its economic impact.”

According to the Pakistani official statement, Trump had reassured Khan “of U.S. support to Pakistan in the efforts to combat COVID-19 including by making available ventilators as well as in the economic arena.” Last week, the Trump administration had announced to extend financial aid of more than $8 million to Pakistan for fighting the rise of the virus infection and slow down the spread of the pandemic in Islamabad.

The official statement added further that Trump also extended offers to send “the latest rapid testing machine for COVID-19” to Khan after hearing that the Pakistani leader was tested for the disease. However, Khan was tested and confirmed to be negative for the virus, according to Pakistani news reports. Currently, Afghanistan and Pakistan, impoverished countries with poor healthcare systems, are struggling due to the rise of infected cases and deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Peace Settlement Issues in Afghanistan

Heads of the two countries also discussed the ongoing troubling situations in Afghanistan, the neighbor of Pakistan and agreed to cooperate in the process of the US-led efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

A deal was signed on February 29 between the US and the militant group, Taliban to proceed a phase-wise withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan and intra-Afghan negotiations on a settlement of the decades-old wars was set to be held on March 10. However, the sharp difference between Kabul and the Taliban over prisoner releases, there were disputes happened between Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and his main political rival.

With the failure to bring negotiation and a surge in Taliban attacks have stalled the peace initiative, US officials sought help from Pakistan to wield considerable influence over the Taliban. Meanwhile, Pakistan denied the allegations of the US that Islamabad had been providing the militants with the sanctuary on its side of the border and other support.

The Pakistani official statement said that Khan had “reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for facilitation of the Afghan peace process and underscored the importance of next steps leading to the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.”

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