Afghanistan dominates Gen Sharif US visit
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The current situation in Afghanistan, post 2014 and the recent improvements in Af-Pak relationship dominated the discussions that the visiting Pakistani Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, has had with the top American leadership – both civilian and the military.
“Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan was discussed front and center,” a US State Department official told Pajhwok Afghan News as General Sharif, on his maiden visit to the US as the Pakistani Army Chief, concluded his Washington visit, during which he met the top US leadership at the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House and the Congress.
AS the Secretary of State, John Kerry, was traveling, in the State Department Sharif met the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dan Feldman.
At the White House, he met the National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. At Pentagon, he met the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, along with the Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and separately with the US Army Chief.
"The group discussed the positive momentum gained through recent, high-level discussions between Afghan and Pakistani officials, Pakistan's progress in its fight against militants, and US intent to sustain security assistance that improves the Pakistan military's counterinsurgency capabilities against militant groups within its borders,” Department of Defense Spokesperson, Maj Bradlee Avots said.
Sharif also met heads of several powerful Senate committees, including Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services. At all these meetings, Sharif briefed the officials, military leaders and Senators on the steps being taken by Pakistan to improve its relationship with the new Afghan Government. He is believed to have given a readout of his recent meetings with the top Afghan leadership.
General Sharif is understood to have told the American leadership that he has offered to train the Afghan armed forces in Pakistan. The move has been welcomed by the US.
“The meeting between General Raheel Sharif and the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was a serious and wide ranging conversation. The Army Chief received broad support for the steps that Pakistan is taking in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency. At the same time, we were very clear about the need for those operations to be comprehensive,” a State Department official said.
It is understood that the US officials and Congressional leaders appreciated the steps being taken by General Sharif against terrorist groups in North Waziristan. At the same time the American leadership is believed to stress on the need to continue with this military action till the time terrorist safe havens are completely eliminated.
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