Washington, Jul 9 (PTI) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday underscored the importance of bilateral relations with Pakistan in a telephonic conversation with his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, amidst a rapid withdrawal of American and NATO troops from neighbouring Afghanistan.
The conversation took place in the backdrop of reports that the Taliban has made huge territorial gains in Afghanistan. Taliban militants are now thought to control about a third of the war-torn country.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken spoke with Qureshi and underscored the shared desire for a stable and sustainable bilateral relationship.
“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed the importance of continued US-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghanistan peace process following the visit to the United States by Afghan President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah,” Price said in a statement.
Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its NATO allies last year agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating.
Blinken and Qureshi also highlighted joint efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including the United States' recent donation of 2.5 million Moderna vaccines, Price said.
This was Blinken's first call to Qureshi after President Joe Biden delivered a major policy speech on the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan on Thursday.
Biden said that America's military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31. The drawdown of troops in the war-ravaged country is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, he had told reporters at the White House on Thursday. PTI LKJ IND AKJ IND