Breaking the silence between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Joe Biden, State Department spokesperson Ned Price reaffirmed Pakistan’s ‘strategic partnership’ with the United States, saying that the country would not be put in a position to choose between China and the US.
During a State Department press briefing on Wednesday, the spokesperson was asked to respond to recent comments from Indian opposition leader Rahul Ghandi blaming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for forcing Pakistan into an alliance with China.
“I will leave it to the Pakistanis and China to speak to their relationship. I certainly would not endorse those remarks,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in Dawn.
Pressed further, he said, “Pakistan is a strategic partner of the United States. We have an important relationship with the government in Islamabad, and it’s a relationship that we value across a number of fronts.”
In regard’s to Pakistan’s relationship with China, the spokesperson made clear that Washington did not expect Pakistan to choose one super-power over the other.
“We’ve made the point all along that it is not a requirement for any country around the world to choose between the United States and China,” Mr Price said. “It is our intention to provide choices to countries when it comes to what the relationship with the United States looks like.”
This week, Prime Minister Khan is visiting Beijing to attend the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics, aiming to also visit with Chinese leadership while there to discuss the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), among other bilateral matters.
Since taking office in January 2021, President Biden has not extended a call to Prime Minister Khan. The last time Pakistan’s prime minister visited the US was in July 2019, when Prime Minister Imran Khan met with then-President Donald Trump at the White House.