Antony Blinken, Bilawal Bhutto discuss bilateral ties in first contact since formation of new government in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: US secretary of state Antony Blinken has held a telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the first such high-level contact since a new government took over in the country, and exchanged views on various aspects of bilateral ties.
The conversation took place amidst a chill in bilateral ties and weeks after ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged that the US was behind the “foreign conspiracy” to topple his government through a no-confidence vote tabled by the opposition.
The Pakistan foreign minister received a telephone call from Blinken, the foreign office (FO) said in a statement on Friday.
During the phone call, secretary Blinken congratulated Bilawal on the assumption of his office and expressed the desire to continue strengthening the mutually beneficial Pakistan-US bilateral relationship.
Exchanging views on various aspects of Pakistan-US relations, Bilawal underscored that Pakistan and the US have a longstanding broad-based relationship.
He added that constructive and sustained engagement between the two countries based on mutual respect and mutual interest was vital to promote peace, development and security in the region and beyond.
Bilawal emphasised that Pakistan’s vision was focused on human development, regional connectivity and a peaceful neighbourhood.
According to the state department, Blinken during the call reiterated the desire to strengthen the broad-based bilateral relationship.
The secretary underscored the resolute US-Pakistan commitment to Afghan stability and combatting terrorism. The secretary and foreign minister also highlighted ongoing engagement on trade and investment, climate, energy, health, and education, it said.
Building on the Pakistan-US cooperation in dealing with the Covid pandemic during the last two years, secretary Blinken invited Pakistan to the Second Global Covid Summit to be held virtually later this month, the FO said.
An invitation was also extended by the secretary of state for Pakistan’s participation in the ministerial meeting on Global Food Security to be held in New York on May 18.
The foreign minister and the secretary of state agreed to remain in contact and enhance engagement on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
It was the first contact between the foreign ministers since a new government was formed in Pakistan last month.
Former prime minister Khan had named senior US diplomat Donald Lu as the person who was allegedly involved in the “foreign conspiracy” to topple his government through a no-confidence vote tabled by the opposition. The US has repeatedly dismissed Khan’s allegations.
Khan claims the US was behind the conspiracy to remove him because of his criticism of US policy and other foreign policy decisions he has taken.
Khan visited Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin as Russia was launching the invasion of Ukraine. He has previously criticised America’s “War on Terror”.
Pakistan’s ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years and the chill in the relations between Pakistan and the US has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.

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