Pakistani intelligence chief has concluded bilateral security talks with American security brass in Washington DC, days before the meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries, as per a media report on Thursday.
Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum met senior US security officials, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William J Burns during his three-day US visit this week, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The last security level talks between the two countries were held in July 2021, when the then-NSA Moeed Yusuf met Sullivan at the White House.
While neither side disclosed the talks, they are believed to have been focussed on bilateral security concerns and the situation in Afghanistan, as the US believes that Pakistan can help stabilise the neighbouring war-torn country, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The current visit followed an unprecedented deterioration in Pakistan-US ties, triggered by former prime minister Imran Khan’s claim that Washington conspired with Opposition leaders to topple his government. Prior to being ousted in a no-confidence motion last month, Khan cited a letter allegedly received by Pakistan Foreign Office from one of their missions abroad that detailed how the host country — the US — had warned that relations with Pakistan would suffer if Khan remained prime minsiter.
The reason, said Khan, for such a stance was Pakistan's independent foreign policy under him. He has since called Sharif's government foreign and imported.
The Biden administration had rubbished Khan's allegations bluntly.
At a news briefing on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price rejected Khan’s claims as speculation and lies, adding that America will not let “lies get in the way” of its bilateral ties with Pakistan, a relationship, he stressed, the US values.
“We are not going to let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation — lies — get in the way of any bilateral relationship we have, including with the bilateral relationship we have with Pakistan, one we value,” he said while responding to a question about Khan’s claims.
The three wings of the US administration — the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department — have rejected Khan's accusations, saying there is no veracity to them.
During Tuesday’s briefing, Price was also asked about a call made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Pakistan’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari last week, during which the US official invited the foreign minister to a UN food security summit in New York on May 18. It was the first contact between the foreign ministers since a new government was formed in Pakistan last month.
Price said Blinken and Bhutto-Zardari also discussed the “ongoing engagement when it comes to our economic ties, trade and investment, climate, energy, health, and education”.
The new Pakistani government under Prime Minsiter Shehbaz Sharif has tried to mend relations stressed under Khan. US Secretary of State congratulated Sharif after he became prime minister. On his part, Sharif said in an interaction with the press that Pakistan cannot afford "enmity with the United States at all".
(With PTI inputs)