In maiden official visit to US, FM Bilawal holds 'productive' meeting with Blinken

Published May 18, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Wednesday. — Picture courtesy: Foreign Office
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Wednesday. — Picture courtesy: Foreign Office

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday held a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his maiden official visit to New York, as they discussed bilateral relations, regional situation, and cooperation in various sectors between the two countries.

The foreign minister had arrived in the US on Tuesday to attend the two-day ministerial conference on the threat to global food security, triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on the invitation of Blinken.

In a series of tweets, Bilawal shed light on key talking points of his meeting with the senior US official.

"We reaffirmed the importance of the 75th anniversary of Pak-US relations and mutual commitment to strengthening broad-based, comprehensive ties between the two countries," Bilawal wrote in a tweet after the meeting.

The foreign minister said he had in-depth discussions on issues impacting regional peace and security, including Afghanistan.

"[We] resolved to work together to meet the challenges of food and energy security," he said.

The two sides also discussed expansion of cooperation in trade and investment, energy and climate change, health and education, IT and tech, and agriculture as well as the importance of "trade over aid", according to Bilawal.

He said the two countries will continue cooperation in defence and CT sectors.

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, in a statement, said Bilawal affirmed a shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship during a meeting with Blinken.

"The secretary and the foreign minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties. They underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles," the statement added.

Earlier this month, Blinken had called Bilawal and invited him to the food security meeting at the UN headquarters.

Shortly after Bilawal arrived in New York on Tuesday, a State Department spokesperson released a statement, assuring Pakistan of strong US support for their efforts to rebuild the Pakistani economy.

"The United States “will continue to work bilaterally on ways to grow investment and trade opportunities to build a prosperous and stable Pakistan,” the spokesperson had told Dawn in Washington.

Bilawal meets UN secretary general

Meanwhile, the foreign minister also met United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today at the UN Headquarters.

According to the Foreign Office, Bilawal underscored the importance attached to multilateralism and the UN in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He stated that Pakistan adhered firmly to the principles of the UN Charter and always supported solutions to global issues in accordance with those principles.

Bilawal particularly emphasised the need to advance the attainment of the first two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty and hunger.

Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, the foreign minister appreciated the UN secretary general's efforts to promote a negotiated solution. He also shared Pakistan’s perspective on the matter.

Bilawal also highlighted the grim situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) marked by grave violations of human rights and illegal demographic changes.

He underscored that Pakistan desired peace with all its neighbours, including India, which he said will continue to remain elusive unless the Kashmir dispute was resolved in accordance with the UN Security resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Bilawal also lauded the secretary general’s commitment to combat Islamophobia and also reaffirmed the resolve to work closely with him on the matter.

He appreciated the UNSG’s role in mobilising humanitarian and economic assistance for Afghan people. The foreign minister shared Pakistan’s concern about the spillover of instability in Afghanistan into Pakistan.

He emphasised that the international community’s response must address the urgent humanitarian needs and avoid a complete collapse of the economy in Afghanistan that will have dire consequences for ordinary Afghans.

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