WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the United States completed their security level talks in Washington on Wednesday, days before a scheduled meeting between their foreign policy chiefs is scheduled to be held in New York.

Inter-Services Intellig­e­n­­ce Director-General (DG ISI) Lt-Gen Nadeem Anjum spent three days in Washington this week, meeting senior security officials, including US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William J. Burns.

Neither side disclosed the details of these meetings, but the talks are believed to have focused on bilateral security concerns and the situation in Afghanistan, as the US believes that Pakistan can help stabilise the war-torn country.

The last security level talks between the two countries were held in July 2021, when then-National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf met Mr Sullivan at White House. The Pakistani delegation had also included former ISI chief Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed.

Later, Mr Sullivan said in a tweet that their talks focused on ‘regional connectivity and security, and “the urgent need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan.”

The current ISI chief’s visit followed an unprecedented deterioration in Pakistan-US ties, triggered by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that Washington conspired with opposition leaders to topple his government.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price rejected Mr. Khan’s claims as speculations and lies, adding that the United States will not let “lies get in the way” of its bilateral ties with Pakistan, a relationship, he stressed, the US values.

“We are not going to let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation — lies — get in the way of any bilateral relationship we have, including with the bilateral relationship we have with Pakistan, one we value,” he said while responding to a question about Mr. Khan’s claims.

On March 27, days before his ouster, the former PM brandished a letter at a rally in Islamabad, claiming it contained evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” hatched to topple his government.

All three wings of the US administration - the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department - have rejected the accusations, saying there’s no veracity to them.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Mr. Price was also asked about a call made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Pakistan’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari last week, during which the US official invited Bilawal to a United Nations food security summit on York in New on May 18.Mr. Price said that Mr Blinken and Mr Bhutto-Zardari also discussed the “ongoing engagement when it comes to our economic ties, trade and investment, climate, energy, health, and education.”

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022

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