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

ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the first high-level contact since a new government took power in the country, and exchanged views on various aspects of bilateral relations.
The conversation came amid cooling bilateral relations and weeks after ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged the US was behind the ‘foreign plot’ to overthrow his government in a vote of no confidence tabled by the opposition.
Pakistan’s foreign minister received a phone call from Blinken, the Foreign Ministry (FO) said in a statement on Friday.
During the phone call, Secretary Blinken congratulated Bilawal on taking office and expressed a desire to continue strengthening the mutually beneficial bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the United States.
Exchanging views on various aspects of Pakistan-US relations, Bilawal pointed out that Pakistan and the US have long enjoyed a broad relationship.
He added that a constructive and sustained engagement between the two countries, based on mutual respect and interest, was essential to promote peace, development and security in the region and beyond.
Bilawal stressed that Pakistan’s vision is centered on human development, regional connectivity and a peaceful neighborhood.
According to the State Department, Blinken during the call reiterated a desire to strengthen broad-based bilateral relations.
The Secretary underscored the strong commitment of the United States and Pakistan to Afghan stability and the fight against terrorism. The secretary and foreign minister also highlighted continued engagement on trade and investment, climate, energy, health and education, he added.
Building on Pakistani-US cooperation in combating the Covid pandemic over the past two years, Secretary Blinken invited Pakistan to the second Global Covid Summit to be held virtually later this month, he said. said the FO.
An invitation has also been 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 Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State have agreed to stay in touch and strengthen their engagement on regional and global issues of common concern.
It was the first contact between foreign ministers since the formation of a new government in Pakistan last month.
Former Prime Minister Khan had named senior US diplomat Donald Lu as the person believed to have been involved in the “foreign plot” to overthrow his government through a vote of no confidence tabled by the opposition. The United States has repeatedly denied Khan’s claims.
Khan claims the United States was behind the plot to impeach him because of his criticism of American policy and other foreign policy decisions he made.
Khan traveled to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin as Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine. He has previously criticized America’s “war on terror”.
Pakistan’s ties with Russia have moved beyond Cold War hostilities in recent years, and the chilling relationship between Pakistan and the United States has pushed the country further towards Russia and China.

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