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Senior US and Pakistani diplomats say they want stronger ties

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UNITED NATIONS — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met for the first time on Wednesday and both said they wanted to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Bhutto Zardari flew to New York to attend a ministerial meeting at UN headquarters convened by the United States later Wednesday which will be chaired by Blinken on the growing food insecurity in the world, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Pakistani minister hailed the US initiative at the start of his meeting with Blinken at the UN headquarters, saying that “recent geopolitical events have indeed worsened the situation, and countries like Pakistan have already faced challenges in food security, water security, energy security due to a whole range of issues ranging from climate change to issues in our neighborhood.

“I also look forward to the opportunity to increase engagement between Pakistan and the United States, working with you and your administration to improve Pakistan-United States commercial relations and create opportunities for American investors and Pakistani investors and Pakistani businessmen and American entrepreneurs to work together,” said Bhutto Zardari.

Blinken welcomed Pakistan’s participation in the food security event and called his meeting with the foreign minister “an important opportunity for us to talk about the many issues we are working on together.”

“We want to focus on the work we are doing to strengthen our economic and trade ties between the United States and Pakistan,” and focus on regional security, said the head of US diplomacy.

Pakistan is the current chairman of the Group of 77 – a powerful coalition of 134 mostly developing countries and China at the United Nations – and Blinken said “the United States looks forward to strengthening its own relationship and dialogue with the G77”. He said he was looking forward to talking to the Minister of Foreign Affairs about it.

State Department spokesman Ned Price later said Blinken met with Bhutto Zardari “to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.”

During the meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes, Price said he discussed “broadening the partnership in the areas of climate, investment, trade and health as well as people-to-people ties.”

“They stressed the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine and democratic principles,” the spokesperson said.

Bhutto Zardari, son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, killed in 2007, is co-chairman of one of the two largest opposition parties that overthrew former Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 11.

Pakistan’s parliament elected opposition lawmaker Shahbaz Sharif as the country’s new prime minister and appointed Bhutto Zardari as foreign minister on April 27.

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