ISLAMABAD -  Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi is currently in the US to check the pulse of President-elect Donald Trump and his team amid speculation that they could be tougher on Pakistan than that of Barrack Obama, officials said.

As a plenipotentiary of PM Nawaz Sharif, Fatemi flew to the US on a 10-day visit and he is expected to meet Trump’s team before the new president takes oath in January.

“The meetings will aim at checking the pulse of the new administration. The interaction with Trump’s team will give us a taste of what we can expect in the future. (Tension with) India and (India’s) propaganda (that Pakistan allegedly supports terrorism) will come under consideration,” a senior official at the Foreign Ministry told The Nation.

He said that there were possibilities of more meetings in the future including one by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after Trump takes over from President Obama.

“The PM’s meeting is likely after Trump’s inauguration but there would be more meetings of the diplomats before that,” he said.

Last week, Sharif and Trump spoke on the phone and the content of the conversation rang alarm bells in New Delhi.

During the telephone call, initiated by Sharif to congratulate Trump, the president-elect reportedly told the premier, “Pakistan was a fantastic country, full of fantastic people that he would love to visit”.

Trump, largely believed to be anti-Pakistan and pro-India, described Sharif as “terrific” and Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people”.

“I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems,” Trump was quoted as saying by the media.

The US president-elect has been described as non-interventionist and nationalist. He repeatedly said in his election campaigns that he supported “America First” foreign policy.

Trump is also a supporter of increasing US military defence spending but believes Washington should decrease spending on NATO and in the Pacific region. During his election campaigns, Trump said the Afghanistan war was a mistake, and at other times stated that it was necessary.

Another official at the Foreign Ministry said that the issue of Afghanistan and war on terror in Pakistan would be discussed during Fatemi’s visit.

“These would be top issues. We will also get their opinion over the Indian aggression. We will highlight Trump’s recent offer to play his role in resolving the Kashmir issue. We aim to neutralise Indian propaganda against Pakistan,” he said.

The official said that Trump’s telephone conversation with Sharif had encouraged the Pakistani diplomats who were now working to convince the president-elect’s aides about Pakistan’s sincerity against terrorism.

“We had been telling Obama’s administration that we were not playing any double game (as alleged by the US) and we will be telling the same to the Trump’s team. We have to improve the confidence level to move forward,” he said.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Abdul Qayyum said that Trump’s recent remarks about Pakistan and the Pakistanis were encouraging. “Hopefully, we will be able to work in a friendly way with the new US government. “Trump seems a straightforward man,” he said.

Qayyum said Fatemi’s visit to the US was timely and was expected to improve Pakistan’s image in Washington.

Defence analyst Dr Muhammad Khan said that Pakistan will have to vigorously fight the Indian propaganda in Washington. “Our diplomats will have to work hard to befriend the new US government (that is generally seen as pro-India). But it is not impossible. Fatemi’s visit after the telephone contact between the top leaders is a good diplomatic effort. This should continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz met Deputy Minister for Economic Development of Italy Ivan Scalfarotto at the Foreign Office.

Scalfarotto is leading the Italian side to the second session of the Pakistan-Italy Joint Economic Commission being held in Islamabad from December 5 to 6. He is also accompanied by a large delegation of leading Italian businessmen.

“Both sides conveyed satisfaction over the positive trajectory of the Pakistan-Italy bilateral relations and underscored the importance of enhanced cooperation, especially in the areas of trade and investment. They also expressed the hope that the visit would contribute to further strengthening trade and economic relations between the two countries,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The adviser highlighted that Italy was a close friend and a leading trade and investment partner of Pakistan. He acknowledged the excellent cooperation between the two countries at multilateral fora, particularly at the United Nations.

The adviser also briefed the visiting dignitary on the prime minister’s initiatives for regional peace and stability, and a strong commitment to maintaining cordial relations with all neighbouring countries.

“The Italian deputy minister acknowledged the positive contribution being made by Pakistan for the regional peace and security and reaffirmed his country’s continued support in all areas of mutual interest,” the statement said.