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Trump says U.S. has developed ‘much better’ relations with Pakistan recently

WASHINGTON (Reuters): U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States has developed a “much better” relationship recently with Pakistan, which has long been at odds with the United States over the war in Afghanistan.

Trump, speaking at a White House event on trade negotiations with China, noted that relations had improved over the “last short period of time” and added that the United States may set up some meetings with Pakistan.

U.S. envoys say Pakistan has an important role to play in Afghan peace talks, given its links to the Taliban.

Taliban representatives are due to meet U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar on Feb. 25 in the next round of talks. The Taliban has refused to allow the participation of the Afghan government, which it regards as a U.S. puppet.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Pakistani ambassador on Wednesday over remarks that Afghan peace talks could be affected if India resorted to violence after last week’s deadly attack on Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region, for which Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group claimed responsibility.

The Taliban had earlier announced that its team would meet U.S. negotiators this week in Islamabad. The meetings did not take place for reasons that remain unclear.

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