Uzra Zeya
Uzra Zeya

WASHINGTON: The Uni­ted States and Pakistan will hold bilateral talks on Wedn­esday, focusing on regional security developments, Af­­ghanistan and Ukraine.

US Under Secretary of Sta­te for Civilian Security, De­­m­ocracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya arrived in Islam­abad on Monday to attend the OIC Foreign Ministers Conference, which began on Tuesday.

Islamabad is holding the two-day conference, despite intense political instability triggered by a no-confidence move against the PTI government. Both opposition and ruling parties agreed to pause their protests and counter-protests for two days to allow OIC delegates to meet and disperse before the infighting resumes.

Under Secretary Zeya is representing the United Sta­tes at the conference, which is also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wi.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, the US State Department said Under Secretary Zeya will lead the US delegation to the 48th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers conference and meet senior government officials, as well as members of civil society and international organisations.

During her OIC engagements, the under secretary “will highlight the deep and close ties between the United States and the OIC member states, underscore the need for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and advocate for human rights and freedoms for all,” the statement added.

In her meetings with Pakistani officials, Ms Zeya “will address regional security developments, Pakistan’s generous hosting of Afghan refugees and support for Afghan relocation efforts”.

The bilateral talks would also focus on “worldwide condemnation of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and celebrating the 75th anniversary of US-Pakistan diplomatic relations”, the State Department said.

A department spokesperson told Dawn on Monday that “a strong, prosperous and democratic” Pakistan was critical to US interests.

From Islamabad, Under Secretary Zeya travels to Tunis where she will meet senior government officials to discuss inclusive political and economic reforms, protecting human rights, and the integral role civil society plays in a strong democracy.

During her meetings, the under secretary will also discuss the economic challenges that Tunisia is facing because of the Russian invasion.

Under Secretary Zeya will then travel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai from March 27 to 29, where her talks would focus on efforts to advance Abraham Accords implementation and exchange views on advancing human rights, strengthening regional security, and ending the war in Yemen and Syria.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2022

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