(CTN NEWS) – On Monday, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a conversation with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, focusing on crucial matters concerning Pakistan’s economy and issues related to Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been grappling with a surge in cross-border terrorism, with local authorities attributing the problem to Kabul’s alleged harboring of terrorists, particularly the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
During the phone call, Secretary Blinken, as conveyed by State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller, reasserted the importance of a constructive and fruitful US-Pakistan partnership.
He acknowledged the significant toll the Pakistani people have endured due to terrorist attacks and emphasized the United States’ unwavering dedication to maintaining a cooperative alliance with Pakistan in combating terrorism.
Furthermore, the Secretary and Foreign Minister delved into the destabilizing impacts of Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.
Both sides highlighted their shared interest in promoting a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, understanding the significance of regional stability and security.
In essence, the conversation between Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari underscored the commitment of the United States and Pakistan to address critical security challenges while fostering collaborative efforts in pursuit of peace and prosperity in the region.
The United States supports a productive, democratic, and prosperous partnership with Pakistan. Had a good call with @BBhuttoZardari to discuss our support for Pakistan’s economic recovery and our shared regional concerns, including Afghanistan.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 24, 2023
High-Level Talks between US and Pakistan Address Regional Security Concerns and Defense Cooperation
Shortly after a meeting in Rawalpindi between General Michael Erik Kurilla, the chief of the US Central Command (Centcom), and General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), a significant phone call took place.
The call involved United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and it was held to discuss crucial matters related to regional security.
The military’s media wing mentioned in a statement that besides the regional security situation, the two diplomats also addressed issues of mutual interest and defense cooperation during the call.
Both Pakistan and the United States have jointly urged war-torn Afghanistan to take measures to prevent its territory from being used as a safe haven by terrorists.
Last week, the US reiterated its stance, emphasizing that the Afghan Taliban must ensure that their country does not become a base for terrorist attacks.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s top military leadership expressed concerns over the presence of sanctuaries and operational freedom enjoyed by terrorists from banned groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan.
These factors have had a notable impact on the security situation in Islamabad.
The engagement between the US Centcom chief and the Pakistan COAS, followed by the call between Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, signifies the ongoing efforts of both nations to address regional security challenges and foster collaboration in counterterrorism measures.
Secretary Blinken Reiterates US Commitment to Pakistan’s Economic Prosperity in Conversation
In the conversation with Foreign Minister Bilawal, Secretary Blinken reiterated the unwavering commitment of the United States to the people of Pakistan, emphasizing that the economic prosperity of Pakistan remains a top priority for the US.
The Secretary highlighted that the US would continue its engagement with Pakistan through various technical and development initiatives, as well as by nurturing strong trade and investment relations between the two nations.
Furthermore, Secretary Blinken welcomed the recent approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of a program to support Pakistan. He encouraged the continuation of reforms that would foster economic recovery and enhance prosperity in the country.
Democratic principles and a profound respect for the rule of law were emphasized by Secretary Blinken as fundamental pillars of the US-Pakistan relationship. These shared values will continue to steer and strengthen the partnership moving forward.
Earlier this month, the IMF granted Pakistan a much-awaited $3 billion bailout, a crucial step that prevented the nation from defaulting on its debt repayments. Pakistan had sought the assistance of the United States in persuading the IMF to approve the loan.
The call between Secretary Blinken and FM Bilawal signifies the deep-rooted commitment of the United States to support Pakistan’s economic growth and stability while upholding the principles of democracy and rule of law in their bilateral relationship.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Raises Concerns over Expiry of Black Sea Grain Initiative in Telephone Call with EU’s High Representative
In a separate instance, the Foreign Minister engaged in a telephone conversation with Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
During the call, the Foreign Minister expressed Pakistan’s concerns regarding the expiration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI).
He emphasized that the resulting food inflation and food security-related challenges would have adverse effects on developing countries like Pakistan, which were already facing economic pressures.
The BSGI allowed for the safe export of Ukraine’s grain from the Black Sea region. Unfortunately, the deal expired last week after Russia withdrew and issued warnings about the safety of ships in the area.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that millions of people facing hunger would suffer the consequences of Russia’s decision to exit the Ukraine grain deal, which will have a profound impact on those in need worldwide.
Earlier, in a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, FM Bilawal had stressed that restoring the grain initiative was in the interest of the global community.
During the call with Josep Borrell, the Foreign Minister shared that he had also discussed this matter with his Ukrainian and Turkish counterparts.
He expressed hope that through dialogue and constructive engagement, efforts to revive the initiative could be successful, taking into account the concerns of all parties involved.
Furthermore, the Foreign Minister requested the EU High Representative to play a role in facilitating a solution that would allow the renewal of the BSGI.
Pakistan expressed its willingness to contribute to collective endeavors aimed at resolving the issue and supporting global food security.
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