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Blinken, Bilawal discuss Afghanistan, Pakistan’s economic outlook

ISLAMABAD , July 25, 2023: United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari discussed Pakistan’s economy outlook and issues concerning Afghanistan in a latest telephonic conversation on Monday.

State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller said Secretary Blinken reaffirmed a “productive US-Pakistan partnership” during the call.

Blinken was of the view that the Pakistani people had suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and affirmed the United States’ commitment to continued partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism.

Both the leaders also discussed the destabilising effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as the US and Pakistan’s shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

The call came hours after US Central Command (Centcom) chief, General Michael Erik Kurilla, discussed the regional security situation with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir during a meeting in Rawalpindi.

Apart from the regional security situation, matters of mutual interest and defence cooperation were also discussed, the military’s media wing mentioned in a statement.

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 US.

The secretary noted that the US would 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 (IMF) approval of a programme to support Pakistan and encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity.

The US top official 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.

Bilawal, EU High Representative discuss revival of Black Sea Grain Initiative

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a telephonic conversation with European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Monday and discussed matters of mutual interest.

Expressing Pakistan’s concerns over the expiry of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), the foreign minister said that food inflation and food security-related challenges would adversely impact developing countries like Pakistan which were already under economic pressure.

Bilawal said that he had also spoken to his Ukrainian and Turkish counterparts on the subject. He hoped that efforts aimed at reviving the initiative would come to fruition through dialogue and constructive engagement accommodating the concerns of all parties.

The foreign minister requested the EU High Representative to play his role to help find a solution that would allow the renewal of BSGI, and conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to contribute to collective efforts in that regard.

Bilawal and the EU’s High Representative agreed to remain engaged on the issue and other matters of mutual interest.

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