New Delhi, September 27
The US has advised Pakistan to improve its ties with India even as it sidestepped New Delhi’s concerns over an upgrade assistance for Islamabad’s F-16s.
“In our discussions today, we talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during an event with Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Asked about External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar calling on the US to review its warming relationship with Pakistan and criticising the authorisation of $ 450 million for the F-16 programme, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own. We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible.’’
“We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each, and we look to both as partners because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests,’’ he elaborated.
The Pakistan-US meeting came hours before Jaishankar met Blinken.
Earlier, Jaishankar had said the US-Pakistan relationship has “neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving the American interests’’ when asked at an open event on the first US arms package for Pakistan since 2018. Jaishankar on Monday night had a meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss more information-sharing and logistics cooperation to further improve operational coordination between the US and Indian militaries.
Blinken also called on Bilawal to engage China on debt relief and restructuring so that Pakistan can more quickly recover from the floods. The US has so far provided 17 plane loads of immediate humanitarian assistance worth $ 60 million to Pakistan which included a fresh $ 10 million tranche in food security assistance. The US will also provide seeds and fertiliser and repair critical irrigation infrastructure damaged by the floods.
“We’ve had our differences; that’s no secret. But we share a common objective: a more stable, a more peaceful, and free future for all of Afghanistan and for those across the broader region,’’ said Blinken during an event to celebrate 75 years of US-Pakistan diplomatic ties.
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