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News | June 4, 2008

Mullen meets with Pakistani military leaders

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (June 4, 2008) – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with his Pakistani counterparts here yesterday to discuss military-to-military relations between the two countries. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Joint Chiefs Staff Committee Chairman Gen. Tariq Majeed, National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. Mahmood Ali Durrani and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s chief of the Army staff.

“They discussed Pakistani-U.S. strategic relations, the war on terror and cooperation in this regard, and military-to-military cooperation,” said Elizabeth Colton, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman.

This is Mullen’s third trip to Pakistan since becoming chairman in October. He also has met Pakistani officials in Washington and, earlier this week, at the Shangri-La Dialogue summit on Asia security in Singapore. The trip has been planned for some weeks, Joint Staff officials said.

U.S. and Pakistani military leaders have much to talk about. The new Pakistani government – elected in February – has begun truce talks with extremists in the country’s federally administered tribal area on the border with Afghanistan. The then-NATO commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill, said in May that every time the Pakistani government reaches an accord with extremist groups in the tribal area, incidents inside Afghanistan go up.

“Over time, when there has been dialogue or peace deals, the incidents have gone up,” McNeill said during a news conference in Kabul on May 30. “What you see right now is the effects of no pressure on the extremists and insurgents on the other side of the border.”

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in Guam on May 30 that Pakistan needs time for its new government to establish itself. “I think until they get their feet on the ground and get a full appreciation of the nature of the threats that they face and their approach to it, I think we just have to give them a little time,” Gates said.

Officials said Mullen’s discussion topics in Pakistan included U.S.-Pakistani training opportunities, the military exercise program, military equipment issues, and other military-to-military contacts and exchanges. Officials said they didn’t expect a concrete result from the meetings – there will be no equipment deals or such, for example – but the meetings are important because they show the close, continuing military discussions between the two nations.