Aid cut improved ties with Pakistan: Trump

Updated August 20, 2019

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In this file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump are pictured at the White House on July 22. — AFP/File
In this file photo, Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump are pictured at the White House on July 22. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said his country’s ties with Pakistan have improved since he cut $1.3 billion in security assistance to Islamabad, rejecting the suggestion that aid is an effective foreign policy tool.

Talking to reporters at his golf resort in New Jersey on Sunday evening, the US leader also recalled his July 22 meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, pointing out that it was “a very good” meeting.

President Trump announced last year that $1.3bn aid to Pakistan would remain suspended until Islamabad removed all alleged terrorist safe havens from its territory.

Read: US aid cut

In his first tweet of the year 2018, the US leader also blamed previous American administrations for “foolishly” giving more than 33 billion dollars to Pakistan over the last 15 years, even though Pakistanis continued to ignore Washington’s demand for eradicating terrorism from the region.

At his press talk, a reporter reminded Mr Trump that he had reduced about $4 billion of foreign aid in his latest budget as well and asked if he believed restoring aid would make America safer.

“I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so. And if I thought it would, I’d probably do it,” he said.

“I cut back $1.3 billion a year to Pakistan. When I cut it back, I have a better relationship with — as you know, we have a great relationship,” Mr Trump said.

Referring to his meeting with the prime minister, the US leader added: “Prime Minister came in. We have a great relationship with Pakistan now. We had a really good meeting.”

Mr Trump, who hosted Mr Khan at the White House, has twice referred to this July 22 meeting, indicating that it has created an opportunity for rebuilding a once close relationship between the countries.

“So, what happened: I cut back $1.3 billion. We have a better relationship now,” he said, arguing that foreign aid does not help build a relationship.

“I also cut it back on the Palestinians because they speak very badly about our country,” he said. “So, I cut it back on the Palestinians. We were paying $500 billion a year, and now we’re paying nothing,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2019