Sartaj Aziz Meets US Officials to discuss Afghanistan - The New Indian Express

Sartaj Aziz Meets US Officials to discuss Afghanistan

Published: 29th January 2014 11:49 AM

Last Updated: 29th January 2014 11:50 AM

The US and Pakistan threw their weight behind an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, as visiting Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz met top American officials to discuss post-2014 situation in the war torn country.

Currently in Washington to attend the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue, Aziz, the Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, drove down to the White House yesterday to meet National Security Advisor Susan Rice. He also met Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.            

Afghanistan, in particular post-2014 situation, in addition to counter terrorism, extremism and regional peace and stability, were the issues prominently discussed at these meetings.    

"During the meeting, they reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to strengthening the US-Pakistan relationship and advancing shared interests in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan," Patrick Ventrell, spokesperson of the National Security Council, told  after the meeting between Aziz and Rice.            

"They discussed ways to increase the effectiveness of counter-terrorism cooperation, and reiterated the importance of combating extremism and promoting peace and stability throughout the region," he said, adding the two leaders reiterated their support for an Afghan-led peace process.            

Rice and Aziz acknowledged the importance of advancing Afghan peace and reconciliation, he noted.            

"They discussed ways to deepen and enhance the US-Pakistan partnership based on the common recognition that this partnership is vital to regional and international security and discussed their countries' shared dedication to nuclear security," Ventrell said.       

According to the White House official, the US will continue to work with Pakistan to advance development, promote security, and help create lasting peace and prosperity for all Pakistanis.           

At the Pentagon, Aziz and Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among other things discussed bilateral security relations, a Defence Department official said.

"They discussed the US-Pakistan security relationship and shared security interests," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said after the meeting.    

Aziz was accompanied by the Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who also holds the portfolio of Water and Power, along with Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani. 

Pakistan Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik and Chief of the General Staff Pakistan Army Lt General Nadeem Ishaq was also present at the meeting.          

In addition to Hagel and Dempsey, the Pentagon delegation was represented by the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Michael Dumont and Senior Military Assistant Lieutenant General Robert B Abrams.          

According to Pakistani officials, at the Pentagon meeting, both sides discussed a range of issues in bilateral  security cooperation and identified key priorities for the strengthening the defence partnership in the future.            

Expressing satisfaction over positive momentum in defence exchanges over the last one year, Aziz said this has helped both sides make significant progress in a number of areas such as ground lines of communications (GLOCs), Counter IEDs cooperation and Counter terrorism.       

During the day, Minster for Water and Power and Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif met with the US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz wherein they reviewed the status of existing energy cooperation between the two countries and explored ways to further deepen and broaden cooperation in this important area.        

Asif highlighted the importance Pakistan attached to the development of large hydroelectric projects which are crucial for industrial and agricultural development and for meeting energy needs of the country, the Pak Embassy said in a statement.

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