ISLAMABAD: U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Islamabad today for talks with Pakistan’s civil and military leadership, SAMAA reported.
Hagel’s Pakistan visit comes amid renewed tensions over US missile strikes as well as closure of NATO supply line for Afghanistan from the port city of Karachi.
Officials said Chuck Hagel called on Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and discussed US-Pak cooperation in the region. Sources said security situation on Pak-Afghan border and the Afghan peace process also came under discussion.
The visiting US official later met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister House. “They discussed bilateral relations and regional situation with particular reference to draw down of international troops next year from Afghanistan,” an statement issued from the PM House said.
“PM Nawaz Sharif said in his remarks that Pakistan wants to strengthen relations with the United States in all sectors. He said Pakistan will continue to play its role for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif‚ Finance Minister Ishaq Dar‚ Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi were also present on the occasion.
Sources said Hagel hoped to work with Pakistan to deepen the security partnership and reassure it of continued U.S. assistance in building its military capacity.
Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance and has received more than $16 billion in security aid since 2002.
Hagel is the first defence minister to visit Pakistan since the U.S. raid in Abbottabad that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. Pakistan was embarrassed and angered by the surprise raid.
At the same time, Pakistan has served as a supply route for equipment flowing into Afghanistan to support the international coalition that is fighting Taliban militants. –