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ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday, spoke with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and underscored that economic success of Pakistan remained a top priority for the United States and encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity.

In a statement, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Secretary of State Blinken spoke by phone with Foreign Minister Bilawal “to reaffirm a productive US-Pakistan partnership.”

He said that 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 United States.

“The Secretary noted that the United States will continue to engage with Pakistan through technical and development initiatives and through our robust trade and investment ties,” read the statement.

The spokesperson said the secretary also welcomed the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s approval of a programme to support Pakistan and encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity.

“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,” the statement further read.

He added that the secretary noted the Pakistani people had suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and affirmed the United States’ commitment to continued partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism.

He further stated that Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal also discussed the destabilising effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as the United States and Pakistan’s shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

According to a statement of the Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, during the telephone call, both sides expressed satisfaction at the current positive momentum in Pakistan-US ties.

She said the foreign minister underscored that Pakistan valued its longstanding and broad-based relationship with the US and wished to further deepen the partnership.

She said the foreign minister also noted that during the past one year, apart from holding six dialogues, the exchange of high-level visits had diversified and solidified the relationship.

“The foreign minister underlined the priority attached to economic and trade relations and Pakistan’s particular interest in advancing cooperation on climate change and green energy,” she said.

Thanking the US for its support, she added that the foreign minister said the Standby Arrangement between Pakistan and the 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 two foreign ministers underlined the importance of constructive engagement between Pakistan and the United States for promoting peace, security and development in the region,” she added.

She said the duo 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.

She added the foreign minister 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. This was the fourth telephone call between Foreign Minister Bilawal and Secretary Blinken since the foreign minister assumed his responsibilities.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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