US, Pakistan move to repair strained ties
Islamabad, Feb 17 (EFE).- The United States is seeking better ties with Pakistan as a senior US diplomat arrived in the crisis-ridden South Asian nation on Friday amid a strain in bilateral ties.
State Department Counselor Derek Chollet is heading a delegation of senior US government officials from the Department of State and the US Agency for International Development to Pakistan.
The visit assumes significance as the two countries have indicated their willingness to mend ties strained under former prime minister Imran Khan.
Khan was ousted from power after he lost a parliamentary in April last year. But he accused the US of conspiring to remove him. Washington denied the allegations.
Chollet’s visit is the first by any high-level US official since Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif succeeded Khan.
The visit is seen as a first step for Islamabad and Washington to repair ties.
In his meetings with Pakistani officials, Chollet said the US and Pakistan shared “decades of bilateral cooperation and support.”
The two countries “have a robust partnership,” a US embassy statement quoted Chollet as saying.
The statement said the US delegation met with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir, and other ministers of Sharif’s cabinet.
“We look forward to strengthening our relationship in trade, investment, climate, clean energy, health, security, education, and other shared priorities,” said Counselor Chollet.
In the meeting with Zardari, the two sides discussed strengthening the bilateral partnership, including increased economic ties as Pakistan continues to recover and rebuild following the 2022 devastating floods.
The US has, so far, provided more than $200 million in assistance to support disaster resilience and flood response efforts in Pakistan.
Counselor Chollet discussed security cooperation and counterterrorism efforts during his meeting with the army chief, Gen Munir, the statement said.
The second round of mid-level defense dialog was also held from Feb.13-16 in Washington DC.
During the talks, issues of bilateral defense and security cooperation were discussed, a statement by the Pakistani foreign ministry said.
The US State Department said Wednesday that its ties with Pakistan were vital for American defense.
But it was still unclear if Washington was considering resuming stalled security assistance to Pakistan.
The US suspended its defense cooperation with Pakistan in 2018 after the then president Donald Trump said Islamabad was not doing enough for the US in Afghanistan.
The US-led foreign forces left Afghanistan in 2021 after more than two decades of fighting with the Taliban.
After the Taliban take over in neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorism-related incidents in the country.