PM Imran, President Trump set to meet in New York today

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NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan will meet US President Donald Trump today in New York ahead of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly opening on Sept 24.

The meeting, which is expected to take place at 10:00 PM PST, comes a day after Trump joined India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “Howdy! Modi” rally in Houston, Texas.

The following day, the US president is scheduled to meet the Indian leader, India Today reported.

Previously, Trump and Imran last met in July at the Oval Office during the former’s first-ever official visit to the States after assuming office in August last year. During their interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the 70-year-old Kashmir dispute.

Trump also held telephone talks with the leaders of Pakistan and India in August amid the lockdown but the offer has been rejected by India.

Tensions between India and Pakistan reached a new high on Aug 5, when New Delhi unilaterally stripped the disputed territory of its special status through a rushed presidential decree. A strict lockdown and communications blackout was imposed in the region that has snapped off ordinary people’s internet and mobile telephone service across much of occupied Kashmir. The clampdown has now entered its 50th day.

Last week, President Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that “a lot of progress” has been made in defusing India-Pakistan tensions and his statement has strengthened these speculations.

After it was confirmed that Trump would meet both Indian and Pakistani prime ministers before and during the UNGA, diplomatic observers in Washington said the possibility that he may use the meetings to discuss the situation in Kashmir is stronger than ever before.

Prime Minister Imran, who has declared himself an ambassador of Kashmiris, spent the second day of his seven-day visit to the UN briefing US lawmakers included US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chair­man of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Valley.

Senator Graham was also among those four US senators who wrote a letter to President Trump last week, asking him to take immediate action to end the deepening humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir.