Pak has been an important ally for 75 years: US’s Blinken’s message to new PM
Pakistan has been an "important partner on wide-ranging mutual interests for nearly 75 years", the United States' secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement as he congratulated the country's new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, who was elected this week after several weeks of political turbulence. In a statement, Blinken said, "We value our relationship. The United States congratulates newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan’s government."
The remarks come even as Imran Khan continues to hurl allegations of "foreign conspiracy" over his ouster as he became the first prime minister in the country on Sunday to lose power through a no confidence motion. 174 lawmakers in the 342-member National Assembly voted in favour of the no-trust vote.
"The United States views a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan as essential for the interests of both of our countries," Blinken said in his remarks.
Khan, 69, had repeatedly alleged that billions were being spent by his rivals to ensure the fall of his government as he was accused of derailing the country's economy. He even named a US diplomat, Donald LU, linking him to the alleged plot.
However, Shehbaz Sharif, brother of three-time former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, had rebuffed the claims. So did the US.
Earlier this week, as Pakistan's new government was elected, White House's Jen Psaki, at a media briefing, said: “We value our long standing cooperation with Pakistan and have always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to the US interests. That remains unchanged regardless of who the leadership is." The White House press secretary also stressed that the US "does not prefer one party over the other".
Responding to the White House's remarks, Sharif was quoted as saying in a statement cited by local media: "The new government wishes to constructively and positively engage with the US to promote shared goals of peace, security and development in the region."
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NATO ally Turkey lifted its veto over Finland and Sweden's bid to join the Western alliance on Tuesday after the three nations agreed to protect each other's security, ending a weeks-long drama that tested allied unity against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The steps for Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO will be agreed on in the next two days, Finnish President Niinisto said. U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the deal.
The United States said Tuesday that no concessions were given to Turkey to secure its green light for Swedish and Finnish entry into NATO at the start of the alliance's summit in Madrid. "There was no request from the Turkish side for the Americans to make a particular concession," a senior administration official told reporters. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official called Turkey's decision a "powerful shot in the arm" for NATO unity.
NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance Wednesday after Turkey inked a deal to drop its objections, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
At least 51 prisoners died after a fire started during a prison riot in the southwestern Colombian city of Tulua, the head of the national prisons agency said on Tuesday, one of the worst incidents of recent prison violence in the country. Director of the INPEC prison agency, General Tito Castellanos, later confirmed a death toll of 51 people - at least 49 who died in the prison and two who died after being taken to hospital.