In a recent phone conversation, US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari discussed critical issues, ranging from the United States’ commitment to Pakistan’s economic recovery to shared concerns about Afghanistan’s situation. This discussion surfaced on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of addressing regional challenges collaboratively. The exchange between the two diplomats emphasised the need for cooperation and understanding in navigating complex matters in the region.

On May 18, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the UN in New York. — AFP

Late on Monday night, in a tweet, Blinken expressed his unequivocal support for a productive, democratic, and prosperous partnership with Pakistan. The message conveyed the United States’ strong commitment to fostering a mutually beneficial alliance with the country, reflecting the importance of cooperation and shared values between the two nations. Blinken’s words emphasised the desire for a partnership that not only thrives economically but also upholds democratic principles, fostering a future built on growth, understanding, and collaboration.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday morning, it was reported that Blinken and Bilawal acknowledged the presence of “positive momentum” in relations between Pakistan and the United States. Both parties agreed to maintain active and constructive engagement in order to foster peace, security, and development in the region. This signifies a commitment from both sides to work together towards shared goals, demonstrating their dedication to strengthening bilateral ties on multiple fronts.

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In an elaborate statement, the Foreign Office (FO) asserted, “Both foreign ministers emphasised the paramount importance of fostering constructive engagement between Pakistan and the US to promote peace, security, and development in the region. They also delved into the regional security landscape, addressed the menace of terrorism, and reasserted their commitment to sustained collaboration for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Bilawal also emphasised that Pakistan highly values its longstanding and multifaceted relationship with the US, expressing a desire to deepen this partnership further. The statement highlighted that over the past year, six dialogues were held, and high-level exchanges strengthened and diversified bilateral ties.

Furthermore, Bilawal underscored the significance of economic and trade relations, particularly Pakistan’s keen interest in advancing cooperation on climate change and green energy initiatives, as conveyed by the FO.

Grateful for the US’s support, Bilawal expressed that the standby arrangement between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would provide the necessary impetus for Pakistan’s economic and developmental imperatives. He emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to implementing structural reforms, enhancing competitiveness, and making the nation more attractive for business and foreign investments.

Additionally, Bilawal highlighted the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, particularly from the perspective of developing countries, and expressed concerns regarding food security and inflation. He stressed the need for concerted efforts to revive the deal as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, during the conversation, Blinken emphasised that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are central pillars of the US-Pakistan relationship. These values will continue to steer the partnership forward, as per the FO.

Separately, the US State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller, stated that Blinken and Bilawal’s phone call reaffirmed the productivity of the US-Pakistan partnership.

Miller elaborated, “Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States to the people of Pakistan, underscoring that Pakistan’s economic success remains a top priority for the US.” He further mentioned that the US would continue engaging with Pakistan through technical and development initiatives as well as robust trade and investment ties.

Blinken also welcomed the IMF arrangement with Islamabad and encouraged the continuation of reforms aimed at promoting economic recovery and prosperity.

Miller emphasised that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are core to the US-Pakistan relationship and will continue to guide the partnership’s trajectory.

The US Secretary of State acknowledged the immense suffering of the Pakistani people due to terrorist attacks and affirmed the United States’ commitment to an ongoing partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism.

During the call, Blinken and Bilawal also discussed the destabilising effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as their shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, as added by Miller.

The phone call took place just hours after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir’s meeting with the US Central Command (Centcom) chief, General Michael Erik Kurilla, in Rawalpindi.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), General Kurilla praised Pakistan’s “continued efforts” in bringing peace and stability to the region during the meeting with Gen. Munir.

“The visiting dignitary acknowledged and appreciated the Pakistan Army’s successes in the fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s continued efforts to promote peace and stability in the region,” the ISPR stated. Both sides discussed matters of mutual interest, the regional security situation, and defence cooperation, reiterating their desire to further enhance bilateral relations in all spheres.

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