ISLAMABAD -  Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that Pakistan and the United States were partners in the journey to development both in the socioeconomic and defence sector.

Speaking to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the telephone, Asif said that he would strive in his new capacity to strengthen the partnership with the US.

Tillerson had called Asif to felicitate on the 70th Independence Day anniversary of Pakistan, said a statement issued here by the foreign ministry.

In the recent past, Pak-US ties have been tense. The tension started last year when the US refused to share the price of the F-16 jets that were to be sold to Pakistan an­d it reached its peak when Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in Balochistan in a US drone strike. Pakistan protested against the extension of the drone attacks but the US refused to budge an inch. Washington has also shown its tilt towards India on international issues.

Last month, Pentagon withheld $50 million to be paid under the Coalition Support Fund to Pakistan. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said at a meeting of the Congressional defence committees that he was unable to verify Pakistan’s efforts against the Haqqani group. Islamabad said Pakistan will not give up its right to CSF and convince the US to release the funds as soon as possible.

Asif said the telephone call from Washington on the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence Day was an apt reminder of the long history of relations between the two countries, said the foreign ministry statement. 

The foreign minister said that the US had been a partner in Pakistan’s progress in the socioeconomic and defence sector.

The foreign minister said that the current leadership of Pakistan was committed to establishing Pakistan’s vital relations with the US. He underscored the need to build a dynamic and diverse relationship underpinned by mutual trust, sincerity, and confidence.   He said Pakistan would benefit the most if peace and stability were achieved in Afghanistan as the success and sustainability of Pakistan’s economic reforms depended upon a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. He expressed Pakistan’s willingness to work with the US once the policy review on Afghanistan was unveiled.

He emphasized the political settlement of the conflict in the Afghanistan as the common objective of Pakistan and the US.

“Secretary Tillerson extended an invitation to the foreign minister to visit the United States to carry on the conversation. The foreign minister also invited Secretary Tillerson to visit Pakistan. Secretary Tillerson accepted the invitation,” said the statement. Tillerson conveyed the best wishes on behalf of the US government and the American people to the government and people of Pakistan.

The US Secretary of State also congratulated Asif on assumption of office as Foreign Minister of Pakistan and expressed his desire to work with him for achieving common objectives, said the statement.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pak-China friendship will further strengthen in days to come.

Speaking to journalists after seeing off the Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang, he said the visit of Chinese high-level delegation to Pakistan will help boost the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Asif said the change in the Prime Minister’s office in Pakistan will not affect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.