WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Wednesday spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari about the two countries’ relationship as they seek to mend strained relations under former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
They also spoke about the situation in neighboring Afghanistan and the impact of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine on food security in Pakistan and the rest of the world, the US State Department said after their call.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry says Bhutto Zardari has requested that US visas be made easier for Pakistani nationals.
This was the second exchange of views between the two leaders. They last spoke in May.
Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April, has opposed the United States throughout his term, welcomed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year and recently accused Washington of trying to oust him. Washington and Pakistan’s National Security Council, an organization of top civilian and military leaders, have denied the allegations.
“The Secretary welcomes the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan and reaffirms our common goals for enhancing the US-Pakistan bilateral partnership on economic stability, climate and health,” the State Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Analysts say they do not expect the United States to seek significant expansion of relations with the new government led by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, but will mostly focus on security cooperation, particularly in counter-terrorism and Afghanistan.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Tim Ahman and Chizu Nomiyama)
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