WEB DESK: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who is in the United States on a five-day visit, met US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at Pentagon to discuss the bilateral defence relations and regional security, the military’s spokesman said, according to a private TV channel.
The director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, informed through a series of tweets that General Raheel visited the Pentagon on Tuesday.
During the meeting, the US defence secretary appreciated Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in fighting war on terror and acknowledged the effects of successful counter terrorism operations. The US will play its part and will fully support any effort of Pakistan in fighting terrorism and extremism, Carter was quoted as saying. The US defence secretary was of the view that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts are “opening opportunities for regional peace”.
He affirmed that both the US and Pakistan will continue to operate in a co-ordinated manner against this global menace of terrorism and extremism, Bajwa said. During the meeting, General Raheel highlighted the Pakistan’s perspective of regional challenges and reiterated the country’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from its soil for good.
INP adds: Earlier, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and CIA chief John Brennan met on Monday and discussed security challenges facing the region and the way forward to confront these, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
General Raheel visited the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he held a meeting with the CIA chief. During the meeting, the CoAS specifically highlighted the need for permanent stability in the region, ISPR spokesman Director-General ISPR Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said in a series of tweets. The army chief stressed the need for a conducive environment in the region for re-initiating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, Bajwa tweeted.
The CIA chief discussed with General Raheel the opportunities presented for the future of an enduring regional peace and praised Pakistan’s towards for the Afghan reconciliation process, said Lieutenant General Bajwa. Brennan acknowledged the accomplishments of the Zarb-e-Azb and its positive impact on the security calculus, he said. The CoAS is in the United States on a five-day visit, in a trip analysts have said will underscore security issues facing Islamabad and Washington in the region as well as the dynamics relating to civilian-military ties within Pakistan.
The US Department of Defence said on Monday Washington was grateful that the CoAS was visiting the US for consultations on bilateral issues. The visit comes weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office to discuss many of the same issues said to be on his army chief’s agenda, including Afghan peace talks and Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions.
The US Department of Defence said on Monday they were grateful that the Pakistan army chief was visiting the United States for consultations on bilateral issues. “We are grateful that CoAS Raheel (Sharif) is taking time to hold consultations in person. The Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the Chairman welcome the CoAS and look forward to productive discussions related to our bilateral defence relationship,” a US defence official said.
At the Pentagon, the army chief will meet Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Centcom chief on Tuesday, the official added. A State Department official confirmed that the CoAS would meet Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department later this week. Kerry returns to Washington on Tuesday from a week-long visit to Turkey and Europe.
According to a report broadcast by the official Voice of America radio, General Sharif might also meet Vice President Joe Biden when he goes to the White House for a meeting with National Security Adviser Susan Rice. General Sharif will also meet senior US lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This confirms that the CoAS will meet all key political, defence and security officials during his five-day stay in the US capital.
Diplomatic sources said that Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, Jalil Abbas Jilani, would attend all key meetings. “The participation of a civilian representative shows that civilian and military establishments are on the same page on all matters of national importance,” a senior diplomatic source said. Ambassador Jilani, confirmed that he would be attending all key meetings at the State and Defence departments.