ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting Qatar today (February 27), a day ahead of the Pakistan-sponsored peace deal signing between the United States and the Afghan Taliban in Doha on February 29.

The prime minister will meet Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, and return the same day but Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will stay back to attend the signing ceremony. “The PM will hold talks with the Qatar leadership and return (the same day). FM will attend the signing ceremony,” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told The Nation yesterday.

A separate statement from the foreign ministry said the PM visit’s focus will be on strengthening “bilateral cooperation and exchanging views on regional developments” – indicating the Afghan peace deal and situation across the region would be discussed.

This will be the second visit of the Prime Minister to Qatar after taking office. The Amir of Qatar visited Pakistan in June 2019. Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, along with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, told a news conference here that he will attend the US-Taliban peace deal signing in Doha.  He said as a result of the improving Pak-US ties, the two countries will bolster the trade and diplomatic relationship.

Qureshi said that Ross was in Pakistan under the directives of President Donald Trump who was committed to strengthening the partnership with Pakistan.

The FM said Pakistan had played a key role in US-Afghan Taliban peace talks and the agreement for the upcoming deal.

Qureshi said that President Trump has r iterated his policy of seeking a political settlement in Afghanistan. “Pakistan and the US have been working together to pursue the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. Pakistan has facilitated US-Taliban talks,” he said. Foreign Minister Qureshi said Secretary Ross had met Adviser on Commerce Razak Dawood, Minister for Power Generation Omer Ayub Khan and the minister for agriculture Khusro Bakhtyar. Ross also held meetings with the American investors currently with their economic stakes in the country.

The US Secretary Commerce acknowledged that Pakistan had done much and that “they would want to see Pakistan out of the FATF (Financial Action task Force) grey list in June,” Qureshi added.

Ross said several US companies were planning to enhance their investments to Pakistan. He added: “We want to play our full part in the progress and development of Pakistan.” He said Pakistan and the US should work collectively to promote the volume of their bilateral trade. Secretary Ross is visiting Pakistan to discuss further strengthening economic, trade and investment ties between the two countries in pursuance of the shared vision of Prime Minister Khan and President Trump.