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Thursday October 28, 2021

Unity on Taliban issue between Pakistan, US and China: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds first face-to-face meeting with FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi

By AFP
September 24, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of UNGA session in New York.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of UNGA session in New York.

United Nations, United States: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he believed the world was united on pressing the Taliban after speaking with Pakistan, China and Russia, key players with Afghanistan´s new rulers.

Blinken met Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with his counterpart from Pakistan and held talks with ministers of the four other veto-wielding Security Council members including China and Russia on Wednesday evening.

"I think there is very strong unity of approach and unity of purpose," Blinken told reporters.

"The Taliban says that it seeks legitimacy, that it seeks support, from the international community. The relationship that it has with the international community is going to be defined by the actions it takes."

Blinken reiterated US priorities for the Taliban including allowing Afghans and foreigners to leave, respecting the rights of women, girls and minorities, and not letting Afghanistan be used again by extremists such as Al-Qaeda.

The State Department said Blinken highlighted "the importance of coordinating our diplomatic engagement" in talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Pakistan has called for engagement with the Taliban and the unfreezing of Afghan assets but Qureshi said earlier in the week that there was no rush to recognize a new Taliban government, a step opposed by Western nations.

Qureshi, opening his meeting with Blinken, said, "We have to find a way of collectively working to achieve our common objective, which is peace and stability."

China and Russia have both moved to engage with the Taliban but have also stopped short of recognition and have longstanding concerns about extremism.

The Taliban swept through Afghanistan last month after President Joe Biden withdrew US troops, saying there was no point in extending America's longest war beyond 20 years.

‘Pakistan seeks balanced ties with US’

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and discussed bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan.

Although the two top diplomats have been in touch with since January this year, but this was their first face-to-face meeting in New York, which took place on the margins of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

They last spoke to each other by phone on August 16.

The Foreign Minister, according to a press release issued by the Pakistani embassy, said at the meeting that close engagement between Pakistan and the United States had always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia.

He reiterated Pakistan’s desire for a balanced relationship with the United States that was anchored in trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity.

FM Qureshi also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to facilitating efforts for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.

He stressed that only a stable and broad-based government in Afghanistan, which reflects its diversity and preserves the gains made by the country since 2001, would be able to ensure that Afghan territory is never exploited by transnational terrorist groups ever again.

Noting that a new political reality had emerged in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said while the Taliban should be held to their commitments, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

He hoped that the world would not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.

The foreign minister highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and underscored the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.

Secretary Blinken appreciated Pakistan’s support for the evacuation of US citizens and other nationals from Afghanistan, and its continued efforts for peace in the region, according to the press release.