US seeks close ties on human rights, Afghan refugees

Published June 18, 2022
US Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya (L) photographed with  Pakistan Ambassador to the US Masood Khan (R). — Photo courtesy Uzra Zeya's Twitter
US Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya (L) photographed with Pakistan Ambassador to the US Masood Khan (R). — Photo courtesy Uzra Zeya's Twitter

WASHINGTON: US Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya has said that Washington is looking forward to a close partnership with Pakistan on human rights and support for Afghan relocation efforts and refugees.

At a State Department news briefing on Thursday afternoon, spokesperson Ned Price expanded the horizon of this partnership, adding that Washington was looking to “advance that partnership in a manner that serves our interest and our mutual interests as well”.

Ms Zeya, who looks after civilian security, democracy, and human rights at the State Department, expressed these views at a meeting with Pakistan’s Ambassador Masood Khan on Thursday.

She said in a tweet that she had “constructive conversation” with Ambassador Khan to “discuss human rights and Pakistan’s critical support for Afghan relocation efforts and refugees”.

An embassy statement said that both agreed to strengthen Pakistan-US relations in diverse areas through frequent exchanges on issues of mutual interest.

Responding to Ms Zeya’s tweet, Ambassador Khan said the two sides would work to promote bilateral dialogue and cooperation to forge closer ties.

Ambassador Khan also welcomed the OIC-State Department’s dialogue on 23-24 May, in Washington, to promote dialogue between the United States and OIC nations.

Under Secretary Zeya also represented the United States at the OIC-CFM Council of Foreign Ministers Conference in Islamabad in late March.

In her talks in Islamabad, she underlined the enduring ties and partnership between Pakistan and the US and commended Pakistan for offering dignity and safety to Afghan refugees for over 40 years.

At the State Department briefing, spokesperson Price said US officials have had several meetings with the representatives of the new setup since they came to power in April.

One important meeting, he said, was between Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York last month.

“Secretary Blinken (met) his Pakistani counterpart face-to-face in his position for the first time. It was a very good, constructive discussion regarding the full range of issues, including the issue of food security,” he said. The two leaders also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its consequences, he added.

“Pakistan is a partner of ours, and we will look to ways to advance that partnership in a manner that serves our interest and our mutual interests as well,” Mr Price said.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2022

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