WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 — Senior U.S. officers met today with their Pakistani counterparts in Islamabad, Pakistan, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, met with Pakistani officials, including Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani army’s chief of staff, Little told reporters.
“The focus of the meeting was to discuss the U.S.-Pakistani military relationship,” he said.
This is the first such meeting in Pakistan since late last year, although military leaders from both sides have maintained other contact, Little noted. Relations between the two countries, and between NATO and Pakistani forces, have been strained since a Nov. 26 engagement near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.
After that incident, Pakistani officials barred NATO forces from using ground cargo transport routes through Pakistan, which previously had carried most ISAF troop supplies transported into Afghanistan.
Little did not discuss details of today’s meetings, but said officials are hopeful that the ground supply routes will re-open soon. “They are important to our effort in Afghanistan,” he said.
Border coordination is much improved since the late-November incident, Little said. The Pakistani parliament is reviewing military relations with the United States, he added, and U.S. officials are open to dialogue.
“We believe strongly that the relationship with Pakistan is very important, and [this meeting is] a reflection of our commitment to the relationship,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)