Reaffirming a “productive US-Pakistan partnership”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday, stressed that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law were central to that relationship. In a statement on the Blinken-Bilawal conversation, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the U.S. top diplomat underscored Washington’s “steadfast commitment to the people of Pakistan, highlighting that the economic success of Pakistan remains a top priority for the United States.” Apart from discussing the state of Pakistan’s economy, the two leaders also deliberated on Afghanistan-related issues. “The Secretary noted that the United States will continue to engage with Pakistan through technical and development initiatives and through our robust trade and investment ties,” the State Department said. “He also welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s approval of a programme to support Pakistan and encouraged continued reforms to promote economic recovery and prosperity” In this regard, the statement added, “Secretary Blinken stressed that democratic principles and respect for the rule of law are central to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and these values will continue to guide this partnership forward. Facing a growing number of cross-border attacks, Pakistan has been calling on the Taliban to rein in the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other terrorist groups operating from safe havens in Afghanistan. “The Secretary noted the Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks and affirmed the United States’ commitment to continued partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism,” the statement said. “The Secretary and Foreign Minister also discussed the destabilizing effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as the United States and Pakistan’s shared interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.” The Blinken-Bilawal phone call took place hours after US Central Command (Centcom) chief, General Michael Erik Kurilla, discussed the regional situation with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir during a meeting in Rawalpindi. Among the new adverse effects of the Moscow-Kyiv conflict, Russia last week terminated a breakthrough wartime deal that allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices have pushed more people into poverty. The termination marks the end of an accord that the U.N. and Turkey brokered last summer to allow shipments of food from the Black Sea region after Russia’s invasion of its neighbour worsened a global food crisis. The initiative is credited with helping reduce soaring prices of wheat, vegetable oil, and other global food commodities. A statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad on Tuesday said during the talk, both sides expressed satisfaction at the current positive momentum in Pak-US ties. The Foreign Minister underscored that Pakistan valued its longstanding and broad-based relationship with the U.S. and wished to further deepen the partnership. He noted that during the past one year, apart from holding six Dialogues, exchange of high-level visits had diversified and solidified the relationship. The Foreign Minister underlined the priority attached to economic and trade relations and Pakistan’s particular interest in advancing cooperation on climate change and green energy. Thanking the US for its support, the Foreign Minister said that the Standby Arrangement between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would provide impetus to Pakistan’s economic and development imperatives and that Pakistan was committed to bringing structural reforms in its economy to make it more competitive and attractive for business and foreign investment. The two Foreign Ministers underlined the importance of constructive engagement between Pakistan and the United States for promoting peace, security and development in the region. They also discussed the regional security situation, including the threat from terrorism, and reaffirmed their desire to continue close cooperation for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister noted the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative especially from the perspective of developing countries and concerns regarding food security and inflation, and stressed the need for continued concerted efforts with a view to reviving the deal at the earliest. This was the fourth telephone call between Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Secretary Blinken since the Foreign Minister assumed his responsibilities.