Top US commanders meet Pak Army chief

Last Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 00:27

Islamabad/Washington: The US and Pakistan
on Wednesday resumed their high-level military contacts for the first
time since a deadly cross-border NATO strike in the country`s
restive tribal belt killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

The meeting between Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani and the top US commander in the region, Gen.
James Mattis, and the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John
Allen took place in Islamabad, a day after President Barack
Obama met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Seoul during a
nuclear summit.

"The focus of the meeting was to discuss the US
Pakistani military relationship," Pentagon Press Secretary,
George Little, told reporters in Washington.

"We are hopeful that ground supplies routes would
open in the near future, which is important to our effort in
Afghanistan," he said.

Though this is the first visit to Islamabad by a senior
US military official since November 26 incident, but there has
been high level contacts between the military officials of the
two countries, he said.

"We believe very strongly that the relationship with
Pakistan is very important," Little said adding that these
meetings are reflections of American efforts in this regard.

As the Parliamentary review continues, Little said,
the US is open to dialogue with Pakistan in reopening of the
supply routes.

Obama met Gilani on the sidelines of the nuclear summit
in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. The US President said his
country and Pakistan are seeking a balanced partnership that
respects Islamabad`s sovereignty "but also respects our
concerns with respect to our national security and our needs
to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past."

"It is the first high-level meeting after (the NATO air
strike) and will focus on the inquiry into the incident and
improvements in border coordination procedures," a Pakistani
military spokesman said in Islamabad, prior to the meeting.

Gilani had ordered a parliamentary review of Pakistan`s
ties with the US and NATO after November`s air strike, which
the American military has said was unintentional.

The Pakistani military has rejected this stand and
called for action against those responsible for the attack.
Pakistan closed all routes used to transport supplies to
NATO and US forces in Afghanistan after the air strike and
forced American personnel to vacate Shamsi airbase in
Balochistan province, believed to be a hub for CIA-operated
drones.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 00:27

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