Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Momahhed Bin Salam has reportedly facilitated the visit of Pakistan PM Imran Khan to the US. Khan will be making his maiden trip to Washington as a PM and will be accompanied by his mentor – Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
According to key sources, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used his personal contacts with Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to arrange the invitation for Imran Khan to the White House.
Efforts to arrange the Khan’s trip to the US commenced in December last year after Trump wrote a letter to Imran, seeking his help in facilitating the Afghan peace process. Imran Khan was very keen to have a direct meeting with Donald Trump because he believed that “such a meeting would help dissipate many misperceptions the US president may have about Pakistan and its role in the region”.
But given tensions between the two nations besides the Trump-Khan spat on Twitter, it was not possible to convince the US establishment for the Trump-Imran summit. The only possibility was if Pakistan could circumvent the US bureaucracy and made direct contact with Trump.
“That’s when the idea of using alternative channel came,” revealed an official, who could not be named. Pakistan then decided to approach the Saudi crown prince – MBS knowing his proximity with Jared Kushner.
Sources confirmed that the Saudi crown prince used his ‘good offices’ to convince Trump through his son-in-law for a meeting with Khan. Another figure that reportedly supported the effort was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is considered close to Trump.
Graham visited Islamabad in January and was ‘highly impressed’ with the ‘vision’ of Prime Minister Imran for Afghanistan and the region. Graham believes Trump and Imran had ‘similar personalities’ and they would surely go along well with each other.
The sources said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stayed in touch with Senator Graham, who made personnel request to Trump for extending an invitation to Imran Khan. The idea behind advancing Imran-Trump meeting was to have ‘candid and open’ discussions on some of the pressing issues facing both the countries and the region.