Pakistani prime minister’s special assistant for foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi, is coming to the United States this weekend to meet officials of the Trump transition team.
“Besides meeting members of the transition team, Fatemi will meet officials of the outgoing Obama administration,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani.
US president-elect Donald Trump is scheduled to take the oath on Jan 20 but he has already set up a provisional team, encouraging foreign leaders and officials to visit his headquarters in New York for familiarisation meetings.
Fatemi, who is coming on a two-week official visit, is also expected to meet some members of this team and in Washington, “he will also meet new US lawmakers elected last month,” Jilani told a news briefing at the embassy.
“This is a very important visit as much has happened in Washington since the Nov 8 elections,” Jilani said.
The visit follows a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Trump on Wednesday during which the US leader expressed his desire to continue a productive relationship with Pakistan.
The Trump-Sharif conversation has generated much interest in the US capital where the opposition Democrats and the media are both criticising the president-elect for “talking to foreign leaders without consulting US officials’’. On Thursday afternoon, the White House suggested that the State Department might have briefed Trump before his call to PM Sharif.
But when a journalist asked State Department’s Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner if they had briefed Trump, he said: “Not to my knowledge, no.We had no discussion with President-elect Trump prior to that call.”
He said Trump had not consulted the department before calling other foreign leaders either.
At the White House, a journalist asked Press Secretary Josh Earnest if the Obama administration agreed with Trump’s positive assessment of Pakistan and its leader.
“The United States’ relationship with Pakistan is one that is quite complicated,” Earnest said and instead of praising Pakistan as “a fantastic country,” as Trump had done, he praised the fantastic US diplomats who work at the State Department and provide the presidents with detailed briefings before talks with foreign leaders.
In an effusive phone call that baffled many after sharp criticisms in the past, Donald Trump praised Pakistan’s prime minister as a “terrific guy” and offered support for a “fantastic” country, .
The Pakistani government released the candid account, complete with Trump’s trademark language, after Nawaz Sharif phoned the billionaire real estate mogul to congratulate him on his election victory.
The widely-circulated statement released late Wednesday caused surprise given the anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Trump campaign and the president-elect’s past description of Pakistan as “not our friend”. It said Trump told the embattled Pakistani leader, currently embroiled in a corruption court case, that he has a “very good reputation”.
“You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you prime minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long,” it quoted Trump as saying. “Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people,” Trump said according to the statement, while also offering to help solve the nation’s many challenges which include a violent insurgency.
“I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honour and I will personally do it.”
“Fantastic diplomacy” wrote Pakistani journalist Waseem Abbasi, based in Washington, on Facebook.
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