US Deputy Secretary of State discusses with Pak PM Afghan situation, bilateral issues

Pakistan and the US on Friday discussed regional security issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, and bilateral economic cooperation as America's Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks with the country's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
US Deputy Secretary of State discusses with Pak PM Afghan situation, bilateral issues
Wendy Sherwood with Qureshi. Image Courtesy: Twitter - @DeputySecState

Islamabad

In a tweet, Sherman said that she met Qureshi “to discuss Afghanistan's future and the important and long-standing US-Pakistan relationship”. “We look forward to continuing to address pressing regional and global challenges,” she said. 
Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Sherman visited the Foreign Office for talks with Qureshi on the pressing issue of Afghanistan. During the detailed talks, the two sides agreed to work together for a durable peace in Afghanistan. In another tweet, the US diplomat said that she also met National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf to “discuss Afghanistan and areas of cooperation in the US-Pakistan relationship.” 
The US embassy here said in a statement on Friday that Sherman, who met Yusuf on Thursday, “discussed developments in Afghanistan and ways to advance cooperation across the bilateral relationship”. According to Radio Pakistan, Yusuf said that the world must maintain contacts with the interim government in Afghanistan, which is now under Taliban rule since August 15 when the Afghan militant group ousted the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani, forcing him to flee the country and take refuge in the UAE. 
The US Deputy Secretary of State arrived here from New Delhi on Thursday on a two-day visit to discuss various aspects of bilateral ties and the regional situation in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. According to the Foreign Office (FO), Sherman's visit follows a recent meeting between Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. 
“We look forward to reinforcing a balanced Pakistan-US relationship that is anchored in mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas including security, trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity,” the FO added. Meanwhile, the Dawn newspaper quoted a senior diplomatic source as saying that the “visit is taking place at a very critical time, both in the context of Afghanistan and developments in the wider region." It said that the Biden administration is focusing on four major points in its talks with Pakistan — recognition of the Taliban government in Kabul, international sanctions on Afghanistan, access to Afghanistan and counter-terrorism cooperation. 
According to the source, the US does not want Pakistan to recognise the Taliban regime before the rest of the international community. Instead, it wants Pakistan to continue its efforts for softening the Taliban position on controversial issues, such as inclusive governance, human rights, girls' education and allowing women to work. The Taliban swept across Afghanistan last month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities in the backdrop of withdrawal of the US forces that began on May 1. 
On August 15, the capital city of Kabul fell to the insurgents. The Afghan militant group claimed victory over opposition forces in the last holdout province of Panjshir on September 6, completing their takeover of Afghanistan three weeks after capturing Kabul. The Taliban have put in place a hardline interim 33-member Cabinet that has no women and includes UN-designated terrorists. The Taliban last ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

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