Yesterday some Pakistan media houses reported that prime minister Imran Khan met Russian president Vladimir Putin at a dinner hosted by US President Donald Trump in New York. A report published by Times of Islamabad, Business World and others reported that several world leaders were invited at the dinner on the side-lines of UNGA currently underway at the UN headquarters in New York.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan was seen discussing different issues with Russian President Putin during a dinner hosted for world leaders by US President Trump on the occasion of 74th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York”, the reports said. It also added that “the dinner was attended by many world leaders including Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. PM remained busy in discussion with Putin while Indian PM Modi was seated with Afghan President Ghani”.
The reports also carried a photograph of Imran Khan and Putin having a conversation at the dinner.
But there are two big problems with this report; first, Putin is not even attending the UNGA and he is in Moscow, and the second, no such dinner was hosted by President Trump in New York.
It has been widely reported that Vladimir Putin is not attending the United Nations General Assembly this year. Yesterday, when he was supposed to be attending a dinner hosted by US president, he was actually in Moscow, where he met Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has also skipped the UNGA. Venezuela is facing a deep financial crisis, and Maduro is visiting Russia to seek support from his government, and also for business deals. Therefore, there is no way Putin could have met Imran Khan in New York during the UNGA.
Moreover, there is not any news about any dinner hosted by the US president at New York for world leaders attending the UN annual meet. The last state dinner hosted by Trump was on 20th September for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the White House. It may be noted that US state dinners are hosted at the White House in Washington DC, not in New York where UN headquarters is located. The Pakistani reports mention Indian PM Modi also attending the dinner, but no such event has been reported by Indian media which is present in USA in large numbers to cover Modi’s US visit.
The photograph of Imran Khan and Putin that Pakistani media houses published is old, it is from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet held in Bishkek in July this year. This was the same event where Imran Khan had embarrassed Pakistan in front of the world by remaining seated while all other dignitaries were standing to welcome various heads of state entering the hall.
This means the Pakistani media invented a completely fictitious dinner hosted by Trump in New York, and then invented Imran Khan’s meeting there with Vladimir Putin who is 7,500 km away in Moscow.