Top-level contacts between Islamabad and Washington recommenced on Friday. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the incumbent foreign minister, and invited him to a food security conference at the UN headquarters in New York on May 18.
The ministerial conference, a two-day episode, will focus on the threat to global food security, which has been triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conference will be chaired by Blinken himself.
It is pertinent to state that such encouraging statements were a rarity during the PTI regime. The phone call to Bhutto-Zardari was the first conversation between the foreign ministers of the two countries in a while. On Sept 24, 2021, then-FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi met Secretary Anthony Blinken on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York.
Islamabad is also exploring the possibility of bringing Bilawal to Washington for a meeting with Secretary Blinken. “Why not try to arrange a meeting now? Why wait?” said a diplomatic source when asked if Islamabad was seeking a Bilawal-Blinken meeting this month.
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Bilawal said engagement with mutual respect was the way forward between Washington and Islamabad.
“Received a call from Blinken. Grateful for warm felicitations on my assumption of office,” Bilawal said in a tweet he posted after the call.
“Exchanged views on: “Strengthening mutually beneficial, broad-based relationship, promotion of peace, development & security and agreed engagement with mutual respect is the way forward between the US and Pakistan,” Bilawal wrote.
The two-day ministerial conference that Pakistan’s young foreign minister has been called for precedes a UNSC’s debate on ‘Conflict and Food Security’.