ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan and the United States are making new efforts to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump after the US leader termed Pak-US ties as ‘very good,’ official sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Islamabad and Washington agree the ‘big visit’ should take place soon to remove the misunderstandings.

One official said: “The ties have improved in the recent weeks but there are still misunderstandings. The meeting between Imran Khan and Trump would help remove them (the misunderstandings).”

He added: “Efforts are being made to make this happen soon. Hopefully, we will see them at the talks table in the near future.”

Another official said Washington had started showing some warmth towards Pakistan. “They are behaving politely and we are expecting the dialogue process to improve the trust level,” he maintained.

Earlier, President Trump said that relations between the US and Pakistan were ‘very good.’ He said his administration will soon be meeting with Pakistani officials. The US President had previously shown interest to meet Imran Khan.

Pak-US relations had taken a turn for the worse in recent years, with the US announcing a $300 million cut in military aid to Pakistan in 2018. Trump attacked Pakistan on Twitter in November, saying it was not doing enough to stop terrorism.

However, recently, tensions between the US and Pakistan have thawed with Trump praising Prime Minister Imran Khan’s role in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

Last month, Trump had said the US has developed a ‘much better’ relationship recently with Pakistan and had added that the US may set up some meetings with Pakistan.

The main sticking point between Washington and Islamabad has been the issue of the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan. The US has been engaged in a more than 17-year war against the group and was currently engaged in talks with it to hammer out a prospective peace deal to end the conflict.

Officials of the two countries have met numerous times over the past two months. In September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pakistan and met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and then newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan.

This month, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pak-US ties had reached an ‘important point.’ He said the US had started acknowledging Pakistan’s role to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

“We are at a very important point. We are making efforts to reset the relations with the US. Pakistan’s role vis-a-vis peace in Afghanistan is now being appreciated,” he said.

Prime Minister Khan has publicly taken credit for facilitating the peace talks between the US and Afghan Taliban and assured the US that Pakistan “will do everything within its power” to further the Afghan peace process.

The PM recently said: “Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi. Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people.”

A US team led by US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad has been negotiating with the Taliban representative to put an end to the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad believes Pakistan’s role was ‘very crucial’ to peace in Afghanistan.

“We would always like Pakistan, like other countries to do more, but we appreciate what they have done so far and I have indicated and Secretary (of State), (Mike) Pompeo and the president (Donald Trump) that we want to have good relations with Pakistan, better relations with Pakistan,” he remarked.

President Trump had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Islamabad’s support in securing a “negotiated settlement” to the war in Afghanistan several weeks ago.

This came as Washington stepped up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, more than 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan. In his letter, Trump said a settlement is “his most important regional priority”, the Pakistani foreign ministry stated. “In this regard, he has sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation”, it added.