FM Bilawal, Blinken discuss Pakistan’s economic recovery, Afghanistan

Published July 25, 2023
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the UN headquarters in New York on May 18, 2022. — AFP
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the UN headquarters in New York on May 18, 2022. — AFP

US State Secretary Antony Blinken discussed the United States’ support for Pakistan’s economic recovery and “shared regional concerns including Afghanistan” in a phone call with Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari, it emerged on Tuesday.

In a tweet late on Monday night, Blinken said, “The US supports a productive, democratic and prosperous partnership with Pakistan.”

The Foreign Office (FO) said on Tuesday morning that Blinken and Bilawal noted the “positive momentum” in Pak-US relations and agreed to remain “constructively engaged to promote peace, security and development”.

In a detailed statement, the FO said: “The two foreign ministers underlined the importance of constructive engagement between Pakistan and the US for promoting peace, security and development in the region. They also discussed the regional security situation, including the threat from terrorism, and reaffirmed their desire to continue close cooperation for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Bilawal also underscored that Pakistan valued its longstanding and broad-based relationship with the US and wished to further deepen the partnership. He noted that during the past one year, apart from holding six dialogues, exchange of high-level visits had diversified and solidified the relationship, the statement said.

Bilawal underlined the priority attached to economic and trade relations and Pakistan’s particular interest in advancing cooperation on climate change and green energy, the FO said.

Thanking the US for its support, Bilawal said that the standby arrangement between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would provide “impetus to Pakistan’s economic and development imperatives and that Pakistan was committed to bringing structural reforms in its economy to make it more competitive and attractive for business and foreign investment,” the statement added.

Bilawal also noted the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, especially from the perspective of developing countries and concerns regarding food security and inflation, and stressed the need for continued concerted efforts with a view to reviving the deal at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Blinken stressed that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are central to the US-Pakistan relationship and these values will continue to guide this partnership forward, the FO said.

Separately, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement that Blinken spoke on the phone with Bilawal to “reaffirm a productive US-Pakistan partnership”.

“Secretary Blinken underscored the United States’ steadfast commitment to the people of Pakistan, highlighting that the economic success of Pakistan remains a top priority for the US,” Miller said.

He further said that Blinken noted that the US would continue to engage with Pakistan through technical and development initiatives and through robust trade and investment ties.

Blinken also welcomed the IMF arrangement with Islamabad and “encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity,” he said.

“Secretary Blinken stressed that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are central to the US-Pakistan relationship and these values will continue to guide this partnership forward,” Miller said.

The US state secretary also noted that the Pakistan people had suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and “affirmed the United States’ commitment to continued partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism”.

Blinken and Bilawal also discussed the destabilising effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as the US and Pakistan’s shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, Miller added.

The phone call between the two came hours after US Central Com­mand (Centcom) chief General Michael Erik Kurilla, in a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir, recognised Pakistan’s “continued efforts” for bringing peace and stability to the region.

According to the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Kurilla called on Gen Munir in Rawalpindi.

“The visiting dignitary acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army’s successes in [the] fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s continued efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.

“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, [the] regional security situation and defence cooperation were discussed,” the ISPR added. It stated that both sides reiterated the desire to further enhance bilateral relations in all fields.

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