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ISAF commander, Pakistan army chief discuss security

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 15, IRNA -- The outgoing Commander of the NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General David Petraeus met Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and discussed matters of professional interest, the army said.

A brief army statement did not give any further details of the meeting.

The US embassy said in a separate statement that Gen. Petraeus, and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani discussed various topics of mutual interest and ways to improve regional security.

Gen. Petraeus also met with the US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and received updates on the US security assistance mission to Pakistan.

Accompanying Gen. Petraeus was Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, who will succeed Gen. Petraeus as the ISAF commander in Afghanistan.

“Gen. Petraeus has long-established relationships with General Kayani and the Pakistani military,” the embassy said. This was his seventh visit to Pakistan as the NATO ISAF Commander. His last visit to Pakistan was 24-25 April 2011.

Gen. Petraeus was unanimously confirmed as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency by the US Senate on June 30, replacing Leon Panetta, who has been appointed as new Secretary Defence.

Petraeus will turn over command of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan on July 18, and intends to retire from the US Army on August 31.

Petraeus is the second top US general, who met Pakistan military leadership in two days amid growing tension after the US blocked 800 million dollars to Pakistan’s army.

The Chief of the US Central Command Gen. James Mattis was in Pakistan on July 12-13, who met General Kayani and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Shameen Wynne and discussed security issues and anti-terror war.

The US top military general visited Pakistan at a time when Pakistan spy Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shujaa Pasha is in the US and are talking to the US defence and intelligence officials.

The army has not given more details about all these meetings but sources say both sides are trying to defuse tension caused by the US aid cut for Pakistanarmy.

The US officials had been quoted in the American media as saying that the assistance was stopped in protest at Pakistan's decision to expel military trainers and Pakistan’s reluctance to go after al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in North Waziristan.

Unnamed officials were also quoted as saying that Washington was also angry at Pakistan’s refusal to issue visas to US military and intelligence operatives.

Pakistan army says will continue war against the militants without foreign aid.

Pakistan Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has threatened to withdraw thousands of troops from areas along Afghan border, who had been deployed to check the illegal cross-border movement of the Taliban militants.

He said Pakistan cannot afford long term deployment of troops along the border with Afghanistan on own resources.

The suspended $800 million also include $300 for the Pakistani forces performing duties in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

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