FM Bilawal arrives in US to attend meeting on global food crisis

The meeting will review the urgent humanitarian needs, identify steps to build resilience for the future.

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UNITED NATIONS: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari arrived in New York on Tuesday to lead Pakistan’s delegation to a ministerial-level meeting on global food security aimed at responding to the escalating food prices across the world in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who convened the meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, will preside over the meeting with the foreign ministers on May 18 to “review the urgent humanitarian needs and identify steps to build resilience for the future”, according to diplomatic sources.

Since Russia’s February 24 military offensive, world wheat prices have increased by roughly 21 percent, barley by 33 percent, and some fertilizers by as much as 40 percent.

“This upcoming food security ministerial in New York is a prime opportunity to talk about the immediate solutions and long-term strategies which are really important,” one source said.

Because the world is facing the “most serious food crisis in over 70 years, the worst since World War II”, the US has called for two ‘Days of Action’ on the food crisis “to rally the world to take steps to bolster food supply chains and strengthen food resilience”, according to a State Department official

The ministerial meeting will be followed by a UN Security Council debate on “Conflict and Food Security” the following day.

During his visit, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will also be meeting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the President of UN General Assembly, Abdullah Shahid, and will also hold some bilateral meetings with his counterparts. His programme is in the process of being finalized.

Earlier to this, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting a dynamic zero-COVID approach has set high standards for the world. “The way the leadership of China relies on science and facts, and is still doing everything possible to ensure the safety and health of every single citizen has set excellent standards internationally,” the foreign minister told Xinhua.

He said Pakistan has learned a lot from the Chinese experience in its fight against the pandemic, adding that China was the first country to send assistance to Pakistan despite facing dire challenges at home.

“We will never forget the way that the government and the people of China have assisted us not only through expertise but also through vaccines and other relief,” Bilawal said.

The foreign minister said that after the very first COVID-19 case was reported in Pakistan, the country adopted a strategy of smart lockdowns which gave the opportunity to set up the infrastructure to control the spread of the disease.

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