WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres separately in New York on Wednesday and discussed issues of mutual interest.
The US secretary of state and Pakistan's foreign minister focused on strengthening bilateral trade and commercial ties as well as regional security during their first face-to-face meeting. "This is an important opportunity for us to talk about the many issues we're working together," Antony Blinken said in a statement before the meeting. "We want to focus on the work we're doing to strengthen economic and commercial ties between the United States and Pakistan, of course, focused on regional security," he added.
Secretary Blinken appeared before the media along with Bilawal where he welcomed the young foreign minister and vowed to work with the government of Pakistan. The FM is in New York to participate in the ministerial meeting on food security, being held under the auspices of the United Nations.
The secretary also mentioned Pakistan's chairmanship of the G77, declaring that the US was looking forward to strengthening its relations and open dialogue communication with the G77. He also thanked the FM for Pakistan's participation and engagement on food security issues and to look at concrete steps both countries could take to address those issues.
"This is a challenge that we're seeing around the world. There was a pre existing condition as a world when it comes to food insecurity in many places. It's been exacerbated dramatically by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, adding another 40 million people to those who are food insecure," the secretary said.
Later, in a tweet, Antony Blinken said “Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and I reaffirmed our shared desire for a strong and prosperous US-Pakistani bilateral relationship. I look forward to expanding our cooperation on climate, trade and investment, and regional peace and security issues.”
The foreign minister agreed with the secretary and remarked that Pakistan was aware of recent geopolitical events and resultantly the aggravated situation. "Countries like Pakistan have already been facing challenges including food security, water security, energy security, because of a host of issues ranging from climate change to issues in our neighbourhood," the FM said.
"I also look forward to the opportunity to increasing engagement between Pakistan and the United States, working with yourself and your administration to improve trade relations between Pakistan and the United States and create opportunities for American investors and Pakistani investors and Pakistani businessmen and American entrepreneurs to work together," the FM said in his concluding remarks.
Separately, FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met UNSG Antonio Guterres at the UN Headquarters and underscored the importance attached to multilateralism and UN in Pakistan’s foreign policy. He stated that Pakistan adheres firmly to the principles of the UN Charter and had always supported solutions to global issues in accordance with those principles.
The FM added that, as the current Chair of the Group of 77 and China, Pakistan welcomes the support of the UNSG to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the UN. He particularly emphasised the need to advance the attainment of the first two sustainable development goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty and hunger.
On the situation in Ukraine, the FM appreciated the Secretary General’s efforts to promote a negotiated solution and shared Pakistan’s perspective.
The FM highlighted the grim situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) marked by grave violations of human rights and illegal demographic changes. He underscored that Pakistan desires peace with all its neighbours, including India, which will continue to remain elusive unless the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the UN Security resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.
The FM lauded the Secretary General’s commitment to combat Islamophobia and also reaffirmed the resolve to work closely with him in this endeavour including in Pakistan’s capacity as the current Chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers.
The FM appreciated the UNSG’s role in mobilising humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people. He shared Pakistan’s concern about the spillover of instability in Afghanistan into Pakistan. He emphasised the international community’s response must address the urgent humanitarian needs and avoid a complete collapse of the economy in Afghanistan that will have dire consequences for ordinary Afghans.
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