ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will hold nine bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to present Pakistan’s point of view on international issues and the new US policy on South Asia, officials in Islamabad said.

The PM is leading Pakistan delegation to the 72nd Session of the UNGA in New York. He will deliver his speech on September 21st.

The bilateral meetings of PM Abbasi include the one with US Vice President Mike Pence which the Trump Administration has suggested as part of their efforts “to re-engage with Pakistan”.

It will be first direct Pakistan-US interaction after the announcement of Afghan and South Asia policy by President Trump that made scathing attack and hurled threats to Pakistan.

Pakistan Ambassador to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi talking to Pakistani journalists here on Sunday said the Pence-Abbasi talks are likely to take place on Tuesday.

The new Trump policy lays special emphasis on kinetic operations to subdue the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, envisions greater role for India in Afghanistan and the overall regional security.

The US president in his speech had also lambasted Pakistan for offering safe havens to “agents of chaos”. The tirade evoked strong response from Pakistan and plunged the bilateral relationship to one of its lowest ever levels.

Responding to questions, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry, who was also present at the briefing, said the United States has its own views about Afghanistan and Pakistan has its own position. “We will see how it goes.”

Ambassador Lodhi said that the prime minister would “outline Pakistan’s position on key international political, social and development issues of vital concern to the country.”

She said Pakistan’s policies, which are based on the country’s national interest, are framed in Islamabad, not in Washington. She said that it had been Pakistan’s consistent position that peace could be restored only through a negotiated settlement.

The prime minister, who arrived in Washington on Monday, will go through a tightly laid-out schedule, participating in UN events related to the General Assembly session and also attend some forums on the sidelines of the 193-member body.

The Assembly has 174 items on its agenda after a new item was inscribed on Friday. It is entitled: “The responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

Ambassador Lodhi said the confirmed nine bilateral meetings have been confirmed and more could also take place as the prime minister’s visit proceeds.

The confirmed meetings include the one with the Jordanian King and leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, the United Kingdom and Nepal. The PM will also have talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In addition, he will exchange views with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some American business leaders.

Foreign Office officials here said Abbasi will also address the Council on Foreign Relations and interact with the US Business Council.

The prime minister will also have extensive interaction with the media.

There will also be a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.

Targeting US, India

Officials at the foreign ministry earlier said that the premier would deliver an aggressive speech at the UNGA – targeting India.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Abbasi would discuss Trump’s new policy for South Asia and India’s interference in Pakistan’s internal matters in his meetings with the world leaders on the sidelines of the UNGA.

“The aim is to promote Pakistan’s point of view as much as possible. The speech of the PM [for the UNGA] has also been prepared keeping in view the regional situation and India’s nexus with the terrorists,” he said.

Another official at the foreign ministry said that the PM would share evidence of Indian interference with the US vice president and other world leaders.

“He will emphasise that instead of putting pressure on Pakistan, the world should hold India accountable for grave human rights violations in Kashmir and supporting terrorism in Pakistan,” the official said.

Last month, when Trump announced his policy questioning Pakistan’s role in terror war and urging India to play a “bigger role” in Afghanistan, Pakistan launched diplomatic efforts to counter the damage.

A three-day envoys’ conference was held in Islamabad this month to discuss the foreign policy after Trump’s criticism.

Later, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan was undergoing a “seismic shift” and needed to find “correct direction”.

Asif later flew to China afterwards to discuss Trump’s speech.

He later visited Iran and Turkey.

The confirmed meetings include the one with the Jordanian King and leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, the United Kingdom and Nepal. The PM will also have talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In addition, he will exchange views with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some American business leaders.

Foreign Office officials here said Abbasi will also address the Council on Foreign Relations and interact with the US Business Council.

The prime minister will also have extensive interaction with the media.

There will also be a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.