Efforts Continue to Improve Pakistan Relations, Spokesman Says

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2012 — The Defense Depart­ment remains com­mit­ted to try­ing to improve its rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said here today.

Navy Capt. John Kir­by met with reporters along with Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle.

Accord­ing to reports, Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Yousef Raza Gilani fired the country’s defense sec­re­tary, Naeem Khalid Lod­hi, yes­ter­day, poten­tial­ly cre­at­ing ten­sion between the civil­ian gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary lead­er­ship.

“This is a mat­ter for Pak­istani offi­cials and gov­ern­ment lead­ers there, mil­i­tary and civil­ian, to work out,” Kir­by said, adding that it does­n’t change the Defense Department’s com­mit­ment to mov­ing the U.S.-Pakistani mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship for­ward.

Lit­tle con­firmed that Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spo­ken to his Pak­istani coun­ter­part, Gen. Ash­faq Parvez Kayani, in recent days.

“My under­stand­ing is that Chair­man Dempsey has been in con­tact with Gen­er­al Kayani,” Lit­tle said. “It was a pro­duc­tive and pro­fes­sion­al con­ver­sa­tion.

“The impor­tant thing with Pak­istan is for us to con­tin­ue that dia­logue at all lev­els,” he con­tin­ued. “We have an impor­tant mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan, and we know that we’ve hit bumps in the road over the past sev­er­al months. We hope to improve the rela­tion­ship and get back to a place where we can coop­er­ate vig­or­ous­ly on a range of mat­ters.”

The two coun­tries share issues of com­mon con­cern, includ­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism and a range of oth­er issues, Lit­tle not­ed. “So we look for­ward to improv­ing the state of our rela­tion­ship with our Pak­istani part­ners,” he added.

Pak­istan has not re-opened resup­ply routes for the war effort in Afghanistan, Lit­tle said, “but we do believe that we have suf­fi­cient stores in place, inside Afghanistan, to pro­vide for a very suc­cess­ful warfight­ing effort in Afghanistan.”

Lit­tle told reporters that dis­rupt­ing and dis­man­tling al-Qai­da and its allies “remains a top nation­al secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ty for the U.S.” “The Unit­ed States remains very com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing efforts to dam­age al-Qai­da and its mil­i­tant allies,” he said. “Al-Qai­da and its allies threat­en the Unit­ed States, they threat­en our allies, and they threat­en Pak­istan as well.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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