US State Secretary discusses Afghanistan issue with Pakistan FM

·2-min read

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.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister (FO) stressed that there was a fundamental convergence between Pakistan and the US on the need for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

“Qureshi underscored that securing peace in Afghanistan was the shared responsibility of all stakeholders inside Afghanistan as well as key regional and international players,” according to the FO.

Qureshi said it was imperative for all relevant stakeholders to press all Afghan parties to engage constructively towards achieving an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement. PTI LKJ/SH IND CPS AKJ CPS

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