WASHINGTON: Indicating it is closely following reports that militants have seized control of a counterterrorism centre in Bannu, the United States on Monday offered unconditional support to Pakistan in its battle against the TTP and similar groups, saying that defeating terrorism was a shared goal of both countries.

At the same time, it also offered to assist India and Pakistan in resolving their differences, reminding them that they were key global partners and that America would like to continue ‘valuable partnerships’ with both.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price made these remarks at a news briefing, hours after Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari reached Washington for talks with US officials.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to those injured. We urge those responsible to cease all acts of violence, release the hostages and end the seizure of the counterterrorism centre,” he said.

“The government of Pakistan is a partner when it comes to these shared concerns, including the challenge of terrorist groups inside Afghanistan… terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border… we stand ready to assist, whether with this unfolding situation or other situations,” he said while responding to a question about Monday’s takeover of a CTD centre in Bannu.

Responding to another question about last week’s war of words between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers inside the United Nations, Mr. Price said: “We have a global strategic partnership with India. I have just spoken to the depth of our partnership with Pakistan. The two relationships stand on their own. It’s not a zero-sum relationship.”

The US, he said, sees the importance of maintaining these valuable partnerships with our Indian and our Pakistani friends, adding that they had a relationship in which “we can be friends with both”.

“As far as these disagreements are concerned… we have partnerships with both countries and that makes us not want to see wars of words between India and Pakistan. We would like to see constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2022

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