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Pakistan army chief in talks with US defence heads

world Updated: Mar 24, 2010 00:30 IST

AFP
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Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani met with US defence chiefs on Monday at the start of a week-long talks to “deepen the cooperation” between Washington and Islamabad, officials said.

The US government views Kayani as a crucial figure behind Pakistan’s stepped-up offensive against Islamist militants along the Afghan border.

Kayani had a near hour-long meeting with Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen on Monday.

“Their discussion focused primarily on bilateral defense issues, but it was part of the larger US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue that is taking place in Washington this week,” a Pentagon statement said.

The talks aim “to build upon efforts begun last year to broaden the relationship and deepen the cooperation between our two nations,” it added.

Kayani and Central Command chief General David

Petraeus earlier “discussed ways to advance cooperation and collaboration in countering extremist violence in Afghanistan, as well as US support for Pakistan’s struggle against violent extremists at home,” Central Command said in a statement.

The Pakistani army chief’s visit is part of talks this week touted by the administration as an effort to build a deeper relationship with Pakistan, which has long seen Washington as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.