Pakistan, US discuss food security | The Express Tribune



Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday received a telephone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — a sign of stepped up exchanges between the two countries seeking to reset their troubled relationship.

Since the change of government in April, there has been visible urgency from both sides to re-engage and focus on the future of their relationship.

Bilawal spoke to his US counterpart soon after taking charge of his first ministerial position in April and then visited New York to have a face-to-face meeting with Blinken.

Read more: US wants ‘expanded ties’ with Pakistan, Blinken assures Bilawal

Since then, there have been a flurry of exchanges from both sides with the recent visits of US special envoy on trade and another senior official dealing with narcotics and security suggested that Islamabad and Washington are keen to find a common ground.

The latest telephonic conversation between Bilawal and Blinken focused on enhanced engagement between the two sides, as per the official statement issued by the Pakistani Foreign Office.

Bilawal in a series of tweets said both sides reiterated the mutual commitment to deepen Pak-US ties marking the 75th anniversary of their relationship.

The foreign minister said he was looking forward to a frequent exchange of high-level visits between the two sides.

Also read: ‘Engagement with mutual respect’, Bilawal tells Blinken

Bilawal requested Blinken to ease issuance of visas for Pakistani nationals. He appreciated the recent visit of US special representative on trade Delaware Syed stressing on “solidifying Pak-US trade and commercial ties”.

He also reaffirmed mutual cooperation in energy, health, security and economic development.

The two foreign ministers also discussed the Afghan situation. They agreed to remain engaged with the interim Afghan Taliban government to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring country.

They also spoke about the situation in Pakistan’s neighbour Afghanistan and about the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on food security in Pakistan and the rest of the world, the US State Department said after their call.

“The Secretary welcomed the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan and reaffirmed our joint goals for enhancing US-Pakistan bilateral partnerships on economic stability, climate, and health,” the State Department said in its statement on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, US Ambassador Donald Blome met Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar at the Foreign Office.

According to a statement, Hina congratulated Ambassador Blome on his appointment and reiterated commitment to widen and deepen longstanding ties.

She reaffirmed engagement in trade, investment, energy, health, underlining the importance of people-to-people ties and congressional engagement.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense in recent months particularly after PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan accused the Biden administration for orchestrating his removal from office in April through a vote of no confidence.

Imran’s claim was based on a secretary diplomatic cable that detailed an account of a meeting between a US official and Pakistani ambassador in Washington. Imran claimed that in that conversation, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu warned of serious consequences for Pakistan if the vote of no confidence did not succeed.

As per the diplomatic cable, the US was unhappy with Imran’s policy on Russia particularly his visit to Moscow at a time when President Putin was planning to invade Ukraine.

Imran denied he had any prior knowledge of the Russian plan and also insisted his visit was only bilateral in nature.

Nevertheless, the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is keen to reset the troubled ties with Washington, insisting Islamabad wants to engage with all countries.

With additional input from Reuters


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