U.S. delegation to visit Pakistan as two sides seek to repair ties

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will lead a delegation to Pakistan this week as Washington and Islamabad seek to repair ties strained under former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The U.S. delegation will visit Bangladesh and Pakistan from Feb. 14-18 to meet with senior government officials, civil society members and business leaders, the State Department said in a statement on Monday.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, had antagonized the United States throughout his tenure. He welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 and accused Washington of being behind the attempt to oust him in 2022.

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Washington and Pakistan’s National Security Council, a body of top civil and military leaders, dismissed his accusations. Khan was succeeded as prime minister by Shehbaz Sharif.

The U.S. delegation’s visit comes as the $350-billion economy of Pakistan is still reeling from devastating floods last year that left at least 1,700 people dead, and the government estimates rebuilding efforts will cost $16 billion.

The nuclear-armed nation is in the grip of a full-blown economic crisis. Talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund were scheduled to resume online this week after 10 days of face-to-face discussions in Islamabad on how to keep the country afloat ended without a deal on Friday.

The Dawn newspaper reported late in January that Pakistan had sought U.S. support to unlock the stalled IMF program that would release $1.1 billion to its strained economy as the country rebuilds.
“The delegation will also reaffirm the strong security cooperation between our nations,” the State Department said on Monday. Economic ties and cooperation to tackle the impact of climate change would be on the agenda in the meeting between U.S. and Pakistani officials, the department added.

February 13, 2023

Source: Reuters

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