The United States said on Monday that it had confidence in Pakistan’s ability to secure its nuclear arsenal after President Joe Biden expressed alarm, leading Islamabad to summon the US ambassador.
Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the State Department, told reporters that “the United States is confident in Pakistan’s commitment and its ability to secure its nuclear assets.”
“The US has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to US interests and, more broadly, the US values our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan,” he said.
Last Thursday, while speaking at a private Democratic Party event in California, Biden remarked on Pakistan’s nuclear program as he started to discuss challenges facing China’s President Xi Jinping, a close ally of Pakistan.
“And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript.
When the White House made the transcript public on Saturday, the narrative was made public. The damage had already been done, despite the fact that the White House later downplayed Biden’s comments, maintaining that the US President wanted a stable and prosperous Pakistan.
The remarks triggered an immediate backlash from Pakistan, which summoned the US envoy in Islamabad to explain Biden’s uncalled-for remarks.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that Pakistan was a “responsible nuclear state” and that it takes safety measures “with the utmost seriousness”.
Despite Pakistan’s rejection of Biden’s remarks and summons of the US ambassador to register a formal complaint, both nations are eager to put the controversy behind them.
Sources said Ambassador Donald Blome during his meeting with the foreign secretary on Saturday explained in detail the context of Biden’s statement.
The US envoy assured that the Biden administration wanted to see a “prosperous and stable” Pakistan.
The government too is keen to focus on the positive engagement between the two countries instead of getting bogged down in what was seen as off-the-cuff remarks by President Biden.
Patel also noted that USAID chief Samantha Power and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet have both visited since devastating floods hit Pakistan.
“This is a relationship we view as important and it’s something that we’re going to continue to remain deeply engaged in,” he said.