US affirms commitment with Pakistan on counterterrorism

US affirms commitment with Pakistan on counterterrorism

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; economic relations also discussed

By Necva Tastan and Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari over phone late Monday, and affirmed Washington's commitment to Islamabad on counterterrorism.

Blinken said "Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and affirmed the United States’ commitment to continued partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism," according to the State Department.

The interaction came just hours after US CENTCOM commander, Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, met Pakistan's army chief Gen. Asim Munir in Pakistan’s garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The US statement mentioned that Blinken and Bilawal also discussed the "shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."

Pakistan has seen a drastic rise in militant attacks in recent months, and the army has urged the Afghan Taliban, who returned to power in Kabul in August 2021, against "providing safe havens" to the Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The interim Taliban set up in Afghanistan has asked Pakistan to prefer peace instead of war, assuring it will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against Islamabad.

In a tweet, Blinken said he had a "good call" with Bilawal to discuss Pakistan's economic recovery and shared regional concerns, including Afghanistan, and that the US supports a "productive, democratic, and prosperous partnership."

According to the State Department, Blinken said the "economic success of Pakistan remains a top priority for the United States" and that Washington will continue "to engage with Pakistan through technical and development initiatives and through our robust trade and investment ties."

He also welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s recent approval of a $3 bailout program to support Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Bilawal and Blinken “expressed satisfaction at the current positive momentum” in Islamabad-Washington ties.

On the regional security situation, Bilawal and Blinken discussed the “threat from terrorism, and reaffirmed their desire to continue close cooperation for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan."

Bilawal also noted the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and stressed the need for its revival.

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