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Meeting with Gen Sharif focused on Afghanistan: Pentagon

Washington: Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif’s meeting with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and other top American military leadership primarily focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan’s actions to counter terror, the Pentagon said.

“They discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and how there continues to be issues along the border, and what can be done on the Pakistani side of the border as well as within Afghanistan to try and foster a more stable situation because it’d be in the interest of both countries,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter cook told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

“The (Defence) Secretary made clear that the United States feels strongly about the need to go after groups like the Haqqani Network that threaten the United States, threaten, certainly, US forces operating in Afghanistan,” he said in response to a question.

Carter and Sharif both talked about the need to address the issue of Haqqani network and other groups that pose a threat not only to Afghanistan, but to Pakistan itself, Cook said in response to a question.

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also joined Carter in his meeting with Sharif. They discussed mutual security interests, including security cooperation between the two countries, Pakistani counter-terrorism operations in the federally administered tribal areas and regional security dynamics.

“The Secretary expressed his appreciation for Pakistan’s ongoing counter-terror efforts and condolences for the heavy losses incurred by Pakistani security forces and civilians in this fight. The secretary underscored the importance of increased Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation,” he said.

Dunford had a separate discussion with the General, and Gen Lloyd Austin, Commander of the US Central Command.

“They talked about the US-Pakistan relationship, the military relationship going forward and the relationship our two countries have and our shared interest in seeing regional security in the region and obviously dealing with the terrorism threat not only in Pakistan but also in neighbouring Afghanistan and why continued cooperation is so vital in that,” Cook said.

“The Secretary believes that this relationship with Pakistan is important towards promoting regional stability. We are going to continue having our defence dialogue with Pakistan in that light, and welcome their efforts to trying to foster that stability to the extent possible,” he said.