As floods devastate the South Asian country, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Pakistan to seek debt relief from its close partner China.
Blinken promised Pakistan strong U.S. support as it recovers from floods that submerged one-third of the country, an area the size of the United Kingdom.
“We send a straightforward message. We are here for Pakistan, as we have been in previous natural disasters, looking forward to rebuilding,” Blinken said following talks with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Washington.
“I also urged our colleagues to engage China on some of the critical issues of debt relief and restructuring so that Pakistan can recover from the floods as quickly as possible,” Blinken said.
China is a key economic and political partner of Pakistan, pushing ahead with a $54 billion “economic corridor” that will build infrastructure and provide Beijing with an outlet to the Indian Ocean.
Washington, whose Cold War alliance with Islamabad has deteriorated, has repeatedly claimed that China will benefit while Pakistan will face unsustainable debt.
Pakistan has repeatedly dismissed warnings from the United States, which regards China as its primary global competitor.
Over 1,600 people, one-third of whom were children, died in Pakistan’s floods, and more than seven million were displaced amid fears that such natural disasters will become more common due to climate change.
The U.S. has pledged $56 million in humanitarian aid and sent 17 planes loaded with supplies, with promises of long-term assistance.