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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a great pleasure to welcome the foreign minister here.  We’ve had the opportunity to spend some time together since the foreign minister has been in his position, but I’m particularly delighted, Bilawal, to have you at the State Department today.

We have a lot to talk about, and I think we’ll both have an opportunity to actually talk publicly about much of that because we’re going – we’re celebrating the 75th anniversary of our relations and we’ll be going from our meeting to an event that celebrates those 75 years, celebrates the partnership between our countries, the ties between our peoples, the I hope growing economic work that we’ll be doing together, as well as many of the challenges that we face, including in the security realm.  So I will leave it to then.

Of course, there is tremendous focus right now on the truly devastating floods that Pakistan has experienced, and we stand in strong solidarity with our friends in Pakistan – and not only stand in solidarity, we are doing everything we can to be of assistance in this moment just as Pakistan has been of assistance to us, including at the beginning of COVID.  And this is something, of course, we’ll talk about too because we want to make sure that even as the immediate consequences of the floods are being dealt with, there is also a long-term effort to help build greater resilience in the future.

So with that and many other things, Bilawal, welcome.  It’s wonderful to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER BHUTTO ZARDARI:  Thank you so much for having us here.  Let me start by offering my condolences for the passing of your father.  I imagine it’s an incredibly difficult time for you and your family, and the thoughts and prayers of my entire delegation, the people of Pakistan – I would like to take this opportunity to express that.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER BHUTTO ZARDARI:  And we pray that God gives you strength, gives your family strength, to deal with such an incredible loss.

It is an absolute honor and a privilege to be here at the State Department and meeting with you, Secretary of State, particularly in light of our 75-year diplomatic relations.  And we’re going to get an opportunity to celebrate those today.  I think Pakistan and the United States have shown over the last 75 years that we’ve been great powers – great partners, great partners, and we’ve achieved great things together.  In fact, whenever we’ve – there’s developed a distance, we’ve faltered, and I think it’s a great testament to our diplomatic relations that we’ve not only standed the tests of time, but we are now re-engaged in a broader framework.

And I look forward to working with you particularly within the context of climate, as we’ve witnessed in Pakistan with the devastating floods that is so utterly overwhelming and catastrophic.  This is a global problem that needs global solutions, and your President has shown the leadership on the climate front, so I think we’re ready to be partners on this agenda.  Once again, we’re very grateful to you for hosting us today here for our bilateral meeting and we’re looking forward to celebrating 75 years of our diplomatic relations together.  So thank you once again.

U.S. Department of State

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