US looks forward to 'working closely' with Shehbaz govt across regional, international issues

Published April 19, 2022
In this file photo, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news briefing. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news briefing. — Reuters/File

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday said that the United States looked forward to "working closely" with newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his government across regional and international issues and described the US-Pakistan relationship as a "vital one".

The senior official made the statement during a press briefing today in response to a question from a journalist.

"For almost 75 years our relationship with Pakistan has been a vital one," he said. "We look forward to continuing that work with the new government in Pakistan across regional and international issues. This is work that has the potential to promote peace and prosperity in Pakistan and throughout the region.

"We have already congratulated the new Pakistani prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, on his election, and we look — we work — excuse me — we look forward to working closely with his government."

In the press briefing on Tuesday, Price was responding to a question about reports of alleged Pakistani air strikes in Afghanistan. "We are aware of the reports of Pakistani air strikes in Afghanistan, but we’d refer you to the Pakistani government for comment," the US official said.

The State Department spokesperson's statement follows a flurry of allegations from PM Shehbaz's predecessor, Imran Khan, who claims that Washington was behind a conspiracy to oust his government.

He based his allegation on a diplomatic cable in which it was reportedly said that a State Department official had warned of "consequences" for bilateral ties if the no-confidence motion against Khan failed. Washington has denied the claims.

In his press briefing Tuesday, the State Department spokesperson underlined that the US viewed Pakistan as an "important stakeholder and partner" with whom the country was engaging to bring about a stable and secure Afghanistan.

"And importantly an Afghanistan that respects the basic and fundamental rights of its people, all of its people, including its minorities, its women, its girls," Price added.

Afghan border issues

Reuters had on Saturday reported that Afghanistan's foreign affairs ministry had summoned Pakistan's ambassador to Kabul over the recent alleged attacks in the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Kunar and had given him a diplomatic demarche to deliver to Islamabad.

Subsequently, the Foreign Office had said that the government was looking into the situation and “will give its position accordingly”. On Sunday, the Foreign Office issued a statement in which it "strongly condemned" the use of Afghan soil by terrorists to carry out activities in Pakistan and urged the Afghan government to take stern action against such elements, while reaffirming respect for Kabul's "independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity".

"Pakistan will continue to work closely with the Afghan government to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields," it had said in its statement.

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