© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about infrastructure investments at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering in College Park, MD, USA, Aug. 9, 2021. Patrick Semansky / Pool via REUTERS
By Patricia Zengerle and Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will look into its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, to spell out the role Washington would like to play in Afghanistan's future.
At the first public hearing in Congress on Afghanistan since the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government last month, Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a "variety of interests, some of which conflict with ours."
"It is one that is constantly hedging its bets on the future of Afghanistan, it is one that houses members of the Taliban … It is also one that participates in various points of cooperation with us in the fight against terrorism," said Blinken.
When asked by lawmakers whether it was time for Washington to reconsider its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said the government would do so soon.
“This is one of the things we will look at in the days and weeks to come – the role Pakistan has played over the past 20 years, but also the role we want to play in the years to come, and what it is for needs, "he said.
The United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan culminated in a hastily organized airlift that left thousands of US-allied Afghans behind and was interrupted by a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport that killed 13 US soldiers and dozen of Afghans.
The United States and Western countries are in a difficult balancing act following the Taliban's victory – reluctant to recognize the Islamist group, but accept the reality of having to work with them to prevent an impending humanitarian crisis.
Pakistan has close ties with the Taliban and is accused of assisting the group in the 20-year struggle against the US-backed government in Kabul – allegations by Islamabad denied.
Alongside Qatar, it is also considered to be one of the two countries with the greatest influence on the Taliban and a place to which many high-ranking Taliban leaders are said to have fled after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
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