Pakistan‚ US agree to boost defence cooperation

WASHINGTON: US Deputy Secretary of Defence Dr Ashton Carter and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey called on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in Washington.

They discussed matters related to bilateral defence cooperation and regional security.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction on the robust momentum in bilateral defence exchanges and hoped that both sides would continue to work together towards shared goals.

Dr Ashton Carter expressed satisfaction that the Ground Lines of Communication were facilitating movement of the US and ISAF retrograde and sustenance cargo through Pakistan.

The two sides agreed that expanding cooperation in areas such as maritime security was in common interest.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Chair of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) also called on the Prime Minister.

She praised the Pakistani nation on the historic transfer of power from one civilian government to the next following the May 11 elections which demonstrated the strong conviction of the people of Pakistan in democracy.

On behalf of NDI‚ she offered continued support for strengthening democracy in the country.

Nawaz Sharif acknowledged the contribution of NDI in improving the electoral systems in the country and also expressed the desire of Government of Pakistan to continue working closely with international organizations such as NDI to consolidate the democratic gains in Pakistan.

Meanwhile‚ Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met the US Congressmen today at the Capitol Hill. During the meeting‚ he spoke on a broad range of issues in the bilateral relationship. He said democracy is a shared value between the peoples of the United States and Pakistan

He said both countries had cooperated closely at important junctures of history and a strong Pakistan-US bilateral relationship was important for peace and stability in the region.

He also underscored the importance of enhanced trade and expanding people to people contacts between the two nations.

The Prime Minister also drew US Congressmen’s attention to Pakistan’s concerns on the continued use of drones.

In his remarks‚ Chairman House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce recognized the sacrifices made the people of Pakistan in the fight against terrorists and said that a strong relationship between Pakistan and the United States was critical to achieve shared objectives.

The meeting was followed by an interactive session and the US Congressman discussed matters of interest with the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister was assisted by Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar‚ Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz‚ Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.

The Prime Minister also met World Bank President Jim Yong. They discussed issues pertaining to the Pakistani economy.