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Friday, February 25, 2011

US, Pakistan military hold secret meeting...

US-Pak military hold secret meeting
Feb 24, 2011 | PTI

Islamabad: Top US-Pakistan military brass, including army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, held a day-long secret meeting at a luxury resort in Oman on the war on terror in Afghanistan, against the backdrop of a tense diplomatic standoff over the arrest of an American for double murder in Lahore.

Kayani discussed regional security issues and explored new ways to better coordinate military operations during the meeting yesterday with the US military commanders, including Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen David Petraeus, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army chief called for greater understanding of his country's military operations.

"Pakistan's soldiers have fought bravely and accomplished much at great cost. We must honour those sacrifices by making sure our military operations are understood," he was quoted as saying in a statement released by the military

"I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with American officers the progress we have made fighting extremists in our country and to offer them my thoughts about how our two sides might better cooperate," said Kayani.

The secret meeting, planned several months ago, was the third such gathering of high-level US and Pakistani officials since August 2008 to discuss the war in Afghanistan, an official in the US party was quoted as saying by 'Stars and Stripes', the American military's official newspaper.

Both sides gave operational updates and emphasised the need for better cross-border communication, information-sharing and physical infrastructure development, such as roads.

No other details were provided.

One US official who attended the meeting said both sides had "very candid and cordial, and very productive discussions."

The meeting was held against the backdrop of a tense diplomatic stand-off between the US and Pakistan over the arrest of an American functionary in Lahore after he shot and killed two armed men on January 27.

Pakistani leaders have rejected repeated demands to free Raymond Davis, the arrested US national, on grounds of diplomatic immunity and said that his case will be decided by the courts.

The Pakistani army is perceived to have a key role in shaping the country's foreign policy, especially relations with the US and India.
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