Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles on Thursday, Biden said Pakistan was “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” because it has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” according to a transcript of the speech released by the White House.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif shot back Saturday at Biden’s comments. “Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and we are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards as per IAEA requirements,” Sharif tweeted, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We take these safety measures with the utmost seriousness. Let no one have any doubts.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said that he was surprised by Biden’s remarks and that, after speaking with Sharif, they summoned Ambassador Donald Blome to the Foreign Office of Pakistan.
A US official confirmed to CNN that Blome was summoned by Pakistan’s foreign ministry following Biden’s remarks. Those remarks frustrated US diplomats in the region, the US official said.
Speaking to reporters Saturday at a news conference in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, Bhutto-Zardari echoed Sharif on his country’s atomic safety record. “We meet all, each and every international standard in accordance with the IAEA,” Bhutto-Zardari said.
Bhutto-Zardari blamed Biden’s comments on a misunderstanding: “I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is a lack of engagement and luckily, we have embarked on a journey of engagement,” he said.
CNN has reached out to the US State Department for comment.