WASHINGTON: While Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman met with Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on his visit to Washington last week, the US State Department stated on Tuesday that the civilian government in Pakistan remained the primary “interlocutor” in bilateral ties.
At a press conference in Washington, spokeswoman Ned Price also denied accusations of theft of flood relief funding, stating that the United States strictly monitors the help it delivers to disaster-stricken areas.
In response to a query, he said that Deputy Secretary Sherman “had the chance” to meet with Gen Bajwa last week in Washington.
“We appreciate our long-term partnership with Pakistan.” “There are many areas where our interests are aligned,” he said, adding that Afghanistan and the region’s security concerns “are constantly there when we have high-level discussions with our Pakistani colleagues.”
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He said that the United States and Pakistan “have a number of common objectives… There are security interests, economic interests, and even people-to-people linkages and connections.”
Without specifying which of these interests was mentioned at the Bajwa-Sherman meeting, he said that “Pakistan has a civilian government that is democratically elected, and that is our (primary) interlocutor.”
In response to a question about rumours of misappropriation of relief funds, Mr Price stated, “This is something we take very seriously, not only in Pakistan but anywhere around the world where American taxpayer dollars are implicated and there is an urgent humanitarian interest at stake, which is clearly the case in terms of response to flooding in Pakistan.”
He claims that the US government sends inspection teams to such locations to monitor the situation, and that this has happened in Pakistan as well, with one such delegation visiting 10 flood-affected villages in Balochistan last month.