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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan conveyed to Biden administration's top visiting diplomat Friday that it wants a broad-based, long-term, and sustainable relationship anchored in economic cooperation, regional connectivity and peace in the region, through a regular and structured dialogue process for promoting common interests and advancing shared regional objectives.

This was conveyed to the United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in her meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr Moeed Yusuf, separately, during her visit to the country from October 7-8, 2021.

After meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi, Deputy Secretary Sherman stated in a tweet: "I met today (Friday) with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to discuss Afghanistan's future and the important and long-standing US-Pakistan relationship. We look forward to continuing to address pressing regional and global challenges."

According to a statement of the spokesperson for the US Department of State Ned Price, Deputy Secretary of State Sherman and Foreign Minister Qureshi discussed areas of bilateral cooperation, the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship and the way forward in Afghanistan.

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"Deputy Secretary Sherman emphasized the importance of a coordinated approach to Afghanistan and other issues vital to regional stability," the spokesperson added.

In a statement, Foreign Office said that in a meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the Deputy Secretary of State was accompanied by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Donald Lu, in which views were exchanged on bilateral relations, Afghanistan, and regional peace and stability.

It stated that Deputy Secretary Sherman appreciated Pakistan's support for the evacuation of the US citizens and others from Afghanistan, and its continued efforts for peace in the region.

"Deputy Secretary Sherman underscored the importance of long-standing relationship between Pakistan and the US. It was agreed to continue close communication and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan, security and counter-terrorism, trade and investment, climate change, economic cooperation, and regional connectivity," it added.

Deputy Secretary Sherman also conveyed grief and sorrow over the loss of human lives in the earthquake that struck parts of Balochistan, Thursday.

In the context of Pakistan-US bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined Pakistan's commitment to forging a broad-based, long-term and sustainable relationship anchored in economic cooperation, regional connectivity, and peace in the region. He added that a regular and structured dialogue process between Pakistan and the US was vital for promoting common interests and advancing shared regional objectives.

As regards the situation in Afghanistan, it added that Qureshi stressed that there was a fundamental convergence between Pakistan and the United States on the need for a peaceful settlement.

Wendy Sherman arrives

He expressed the hope that the new setup in Afghanistan would make concerted efforts for peace and stability as well as work towards the betterment of the lives of all Afghan people.

Qureshi noted that an inclusive and broad-based political structure reflecting the ethnic diversity of Afghan society was essential for Afghanistan's stability and progress.

He also stressed that the current situation required positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, release of Afghan financial resources, and measures to help build a sustainable economy to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people.

Highlighting the grave human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasised the importance of peacefully resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute for durable peace and stability in South Asia.

The foreign minister also thanked the United States for the Covid-related support extended to Pakistan.

Deputy Secretary Sherman is visiting Pakistan on 7-8 October 2021.

Her visit follows the recent meeting between Foreign Minister Qureshi and US Secretary of State Blinken on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on 23 September 2021.

Separately, the visiting Deputy Secretary of State also met with National Security Moeed Yusuf in which the two sides expressed the desire to promote their bilateral relations.

According to a statement issued by the office of the NSA, both the sides discussed economic cooperation and the regional security situation during the meeting.

It stated that the US side was appreciative of Pakistan's efforts for evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan and the help it has extended to the Afghan refugees.

Moeed Yusuf said the world must maintain contacts with the interim government in Afghanistan.

He said Indian blatant human rights violations in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir also pose a threat to regional peace.

The visit is taking place at a critical time both in the context of Afghanistan and bilateral relation between the two countries, which has been strained due to the events in Afghanistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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