Friday, July 29, 2016


Pakistan

Kerry Meets With Pakistan's Top Military Commander

Pakistan's top military commander General Raheel Sharif (file photo)
Pakistan's top military commander General Raheel Sharif (file photo)
By RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he had a "productive meeting" in Washington with Pakistan's visiting Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif.

Kerry announced the meeting on his Twitter account late on November 30, saying the talks at the U.S. State Department had taken place after November 27 Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.

Kerry did not specify exactly when the meeting took place.

But reports from Washington suggest Kerry sent the tweet shortly after the conclusion of their talks.

Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani, also reportedly attended.

In Islamabad, Pakistani officials said Sharif presented his country's viewpoint about regional security issues, including the withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Under newly approved agreements with Afghanistan, about 12,000 U.S. and NATO-led troops will stay in Afghanistan through 2015 with a mandate that allows them to engage in combat against Taliban and other militants, or to provide combat support to Afghan security forces.

Major General Asim Bajwa, the Director General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations, said Sharif's visit shows that Washington is ready to engage again with Pakistan's military after tensions between the two countries.

He also said Kerry had welcomed progress on improving relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose leaders met in Pakistan on November 15, as a step toward regional stability.

Sharif's visit to the United States is his first since he became the top Pakistani military commander in November 2013.

The visit has lasted nearly two weeks, making it one of the longest stays in the United States by a Pakistani army chief.

Sharif's arrival in Washington came shortly after the release of a Pentagon report alleging that Pakistan is using militants -- such as Afghan Taliban and Islamist fighters from the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network -- as proxies to undermine India's presence in Afghanistan.

Earlier in his visit, Sharif met U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, and other U.S. military leaders, including senior officials at U.S. Central Command.

With reporting by "The News," Geo-TV, TheDiplomat.com, and Arnynews.tv

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