Imran Khan a great athlete, a very popular PM: Donald Trump

Washington | US President Donald Trump in his maiden meeting Monday with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan described him as a great athlete and a very popular prime minister and jokingly said that he would help him get reelected.

“It’s my great honour to have the very popular and, by the way, great athlete — one of the greatest — but very popular Prime Minister of Pakistan, Trump said while welcoming Khan to the Oval Office of the White House.

This was Khan’s first visit to the US after being elected as the prime minister of Pakistan last year. Khan is currently on a three-day official visit to the US at the invitation of Trump.

During the more than 40 minutes meeting, the two leaders spent time with the media — responding to a volley of questions. The mood and atmosphere in the Oval Office was quite comfortable.

Khan appeared to be at ease and confident answering questions. Former PM Nawaz Sharif read from prepared statements during his two joint media appearances with the then US President Barack Obama.

During the unusually lengthy question and answer session with the media, wherein they gave almost all the Pakistani journalists present an opportunity to ask questions the two leaders appeared to have forged a good chemistry instantly, laughing and joking several times.

“We should be doing tremendous business together. So, I look forward to it,” Trump said as he concluded his welcome remarks for the visiting Pakistani leaders who was seated next to him in a deep navy blue sherwani.

“Inshallah,” Khan said, adding that he has been looking forward to this meeting since he assumed office as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Trump described it as a “very important meeting”.

“I think the potential with Pakistan and likewise, the opposite way, I think we have not even come close to meeting it. There is tremendous potential between our country and Pakistan,” he said.

In fact, in response to a question, Trump said that he would love to visit Pakistan, but he has not received an invitation yet. “Well, I can’t say that yet because, so far, he has not extended me an invitation,” he said amidst laughter.

“And after today’s meeting, maybe he won’t. But I have a feeling he might. Yes, I’d love to go Pakistan at the right time,” he said.

In lighter vein, Trump said that he likes reporters from Pakistan, “better than” Americans. There was another moment of laughter in the room when Trump did not agree with Khan when he said that he is experiencing unprecedented criticism from his Pakistani media.

“When you say ‘unprecedented,’ it can’t –Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. There’s no way you’re treated worse than I am (by the US media),” Trump said amidst laughter.

In response to another question, Trump said he would help Khan in his reelection.

“Well, I think he’s going to win. And I think what’s going to happen — of course, he’s got a little ways to wait — but I’ll go over — I’m going to campaign for you. I’m going to help him win his campaign,” said the US President.

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