- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to FM Bilawal on the call.
- Secretary Blinken affirmed a “productive US-Pakistan partnership”.
- He welcomes the IMF’s approval of a program to support Pakistan.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Pakistan’s economy and issues related to Afghanistan.
Pakistan faces rising cross-border terrorism, with local officials blaming Kabul for harboring terrorists – particularly the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
According to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the “productive US-Pakistan partnership” in a phone conversation with FM Bilawal.
The secretary noted that the Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorist attacks and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to continuing to partner with Pakistan on combating terrorism.
The Secretary and Secretary discussed the destabilizing effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as the shared interest of the United States and Pakistan in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
The call came hours after US Central Command (CentCom) chief General Michael Eric Kurila discussed the regional security situation with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir during a meeting in Rawalpindi.
In addition to the regional security situation, matters of mutual interest and defense cooperation were also discussed, the army’s media wing said in a statement.
Both the countries – Pakistan and the US – have called upon war-torn Afghanistan to ensure that its soil is not used as a safe haven by terrorists.
The US reiterated last week that the Afghan Taliban must ensure that their country is not used for terrorist attacks, while top Pakistani military officials said the safe haven and freedom of action available to terrorists of the banned TTP and other similar groups in Afghanistan is one of the key factors affecting Islamabad’s security.
During talks with Secretary Bilawal, Secretary Blinken underscored the United States’ steadfast commitment to the people of Pakistan, highlighting that Pakistan’s economic success remains a top priority for the United States.
The secretary said the US will continue to engage with Pakistan through technology and development initiatives and through its strong trade and investment ties.
They also welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval of a program to support Pakistan and encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity.
Secretary Blinken emphasized that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are at the heart of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and that these values will continue to guide this partnership going forward.
The lender earlier this month approved the much-anticipated $3 billion bailout for Pakistan, a move that has saved the country from defaulting on its debt payments. Pakistan sought the help of the United States in persuading the IMF to approve the loan.
Black Sea Grain Initiative
Separately, EAM had a telephonic conversation with Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Expressing Pakistan’s concern over the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), the External Affairs Minister said that it would result in food inflation and food security challenges, adversely affecting developing countries like Pakistan, which were already under economic pressure.
A deal allowing safe Black Sea exports of Ukraine’s grain expired last week after Russia backed out and warned it could not guarantee the safety of the ships.
According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, millions of people facing hunger will “pay the price” for Russia’s decision to pull out of the Ukraine grain deal, and the move “will be a blow to those in need everywhere”.
FM Bilawal also said in a press briefing with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that restoring the grain initiative was “in the interest of the world”.
During the call, the foreign minister told Blinken that he had also spoken to his Ukrainian and Turkish counterparts on the subject.
He expressed hope that efforts aimed at reviving the initiative would be successful through dialogue and constructive engagement taking into account the concerns of all stakeholders.
EAM urged the High Representative of the European Union to play his part in helping to find a solution that would allow the renewal of the BSGI, and conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to contribute to collective efforts in that regard.