ISLAMABAD - US President Donald Trump yesterday said that his country had never been closer to Pakistan than today as he pledged help on the Kashmir issue.

Speaking to journalists before a formal meeting with his ‘friend’ Prime Minister Imran Khan in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump said: “The two countries have a good relationship. We have never been closer with Pakistan.” He added: “And this is a big statement.”

To a question if he would also visit Pakistan since he was set for a trip to India, Trump said he was already meeting the Pakistani premier in Davos.

President Trump again offered to play a role regarding Kashmir issue. “We have been closely monitoring the situation in (occupied) Kashmir. I will (later) discuss the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan,” adding he would speak to Indian PM Narendra Modi on the dispute.

Donald Trump said Imran Khan was his friend and he was happy to meet him again.

“What’s going on between Pakistan and India … if we can help, we certainly will be willing to. We have been watching it very closely and it’s an honour to be here with my friend,” he maintained.

Trump said that trade was going to be of very, very paramount importance ... and “we’re working together on some borders, and we’re talking about Kashmir in relation to what is going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help we certainly will be helping.”

PM Imran Khan said: “Fortunately, America and Pakistan are on the same page regarding Afghanistan. Talks are being held between their government and Taliban.”

He added: “The Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to always play its part in deescalating the tensions, because no other country can.”

Abdul Razak Dawood and Zulfi Bukhari - the PM’s  advisers on commerce and overseas Pakistanis, respectively — were part of the delegation that met Trump.

The last time Trump and PM Imran Khan had met in 2019, the former had said he would “mediate” to solve the Kashmir issue, kicking up a frenzy in India.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have ratcheted up over the last two years, with the countries almost going to war in February 2019 when New Delhi’s fighter planes bombed Balakot in response to the Pulwama attack.

Pakistan retaliated befittingly on February 27 by downing two Indian jets and capturing Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was released after being held captive for two days as a “gesture of peace” by PM Imran Khan towards India.

Months after that, India on August 5, 2019, revoked Article 370 of its Constitution — which gave a special status to occupied Kashmir — and sparked anger in Pakistan, with Islamabad cutting off diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

Trust level between Pakistan and the US has gone up considerably amid high-level contacts and meetings.

Yesterday, Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, called on Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood in Islamabad to discuss the bilateral and regional issues.

Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had visited Washington to hold talks with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo. 

FM Qureshi termed the talks successful and hinted at further cooperation. He had earlier announced that Afghan Taliban – who engaged in talks with the US on Pakistan’s insistence – were ready to give up violence for the sake of peace. US top envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to visit Pakistan soon to finalise a peace deal.