Kayani, Mullen to meet in NATO chiefs conference

The top US and Pakistani military leaders were to meet on the sidelines of NATO talks in hopes of fixing strained ties following the US raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a US defense official said Thursday.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and his Pakistani counterpart General Ashfaq Kayani are to meet on the margins of a NATO conference beginning in Spain on Friday, the Defense Department official, who asked not to be named, said.

It will be the first meeting between the two military leaders since the May 2 night time military raid in which US Navy Seals, without first notifying Islamabad, killed the Al-Qaeda leader in the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound where he had been hiding.

“It’s not like the relationship has totally ended, but some rebuilding has got to be done,” the military source told AFP.

As relations worsened in the aftermath of the raid, Washington announced that it could cut some of the $2.7 billion in military aid received by Pakistan.

Pakistan, for its part, in the aftermath of the operation ordered as many as 200 military trainers out of the country.

While relations are frayed, Pakistan is seen as key for US military operations in Afghanistan, where the United States is to trying to beat down a resilient Taliban insurgency.