After abuse, Donald Trump seeks to reconcile with Pakistan: US president used similar strategy with China, North Korea

US president Donald Trump has written to Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan to seek help over faltering Afghan peace talks and cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. The development came weeks after Trump said Pakistan does not do "a damn thing" for the US, alleging that Islamabad had helped Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city of Abbottabad.

In a letter to Khan, Trump "stated that his most important regional priority was achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war. In this regard, he has sought Pakistan's support and facilitation," Pakistan's Foreign Office said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the US national security council told PTI that Trump "recognises that Pakistan has the ability to deny the Taliban sanctuary on its territory... The letter also makes clear that Pakistan's assistance with the Afghan peace process is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership."

This indicates a pattern, and possibly a strategy, in Trump's handling of certain countries that his administration sees as difficult. Like Pakistan, leaders of North Korea and China, too, had first experienced severe criticism from the Trump administration over their policies before being given the option of reconciliation.

China

The US paved way for a trade conflict in July when it imposed import taxes on $250 billion worth of imported Chinese goods — 25 percent on $50 billion worth and 10 percent on the other $200 billion. China, caught off guard, countered the move by targeting $110 billion in US imports.

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

Trump had planned to raise the tariffs on the $200 billion worth of goods to 25 percent if he couldn't get a deal with Xi. The tariffs on Chinese goods were scheduled to increase starting 1 January, 2019.

However, following a "highly successful meeting" in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 Summit, Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping on Saturday agreed not to impose the new tariffs from 1 January, 2019. They also pledged to continue negotiations to seek a way out of the ongoing trade war.

Under the agreement reached in Buenos Aires, the two countries have 90 days starting 1 January to resolve their differences over Beijing's tech policies. If they can't, the higher US tariffs will go into effect on the Chinese imports.

"It's an incredible deal," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, adding, "if it happens it goes down as one of the largest deals ever made."

North Korea

From the time he assumed office till early 2018, Trump was one of the strongest critics of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's possession of nuclear weapons.

His first year in office was marked by bitter exchanges with Kim as North Korea conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of international warnings.

The US president vowed to unleash "fire and fury" if Pyongyang kept threatening the US. He also referred to Kim as "little rocket man". In return, Kim called him "mentally deranged" and a "dotard".

Despite the White House's "maximum pressure" campaign, North Korea remained defiant and carried out its sixth nuclear test in September 2017. Soon after, Kim declared that his country had achieved its mission of becoming a nuclear state, with missiles that could reach the US.

But in early 2018, North Korea began attempts to improve relations with South Korea by sending a team and delegates to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. In March, Trump surprised the world by accepting an invitation from Kim — delivered via Seoul — to meet in person.

The path to the summit was rocky, with Trump at one point even calling it off completely. But after some diplomatic scrambling, the two leaders sat down together in June for a historic summit in Singapore during which Kim committed to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

Aboard Air Force One on his return to Washington from the G20 Summit, Trump announced on Monday that his next meeting with Kim will likely be held in January or February. While Trump's approach towards all the three countries — Pakistan, China, and North Korea — has been interestingly similar, it remains to be seen if his efforts will actually yield long-lasting positive results in any of the cases.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 04, 2018 20:01:40 IST

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