Kayani, top NATO commander discuss security
AFP & REUTERS
ISLAMABAD THE top commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan held talks with Pakistan’s army chief in Islamabad on Saturday on how to improve security in volatile areas bordering the two countries.
US General John Allen met General Ashfaq Kayani in the Pakistani capital ahead of a high-level meeting of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), officials said.
The ISAF delegation arrived for the most significant talks that Pakistan has hosted with the international military alliance and the Afghan military for a year, in a sign that tensions between Pakistan and the US are easing.
The Pakistani military said in a statement that preliminary meetings between General Allen and General Kayani focused on “operations in border areas and coordination mechanisms to avoid untoward incidents.” “The tripartite commission is expected to meet after the arrival of Afghan army chief, General Sher Muhammad Karimi on Sunday”, a senior security official told AFP.
He said the date and time of the commission’s meeting will be disclosed later.
The commission will focus on enhancing measures along the Pak-Afghan border and to improve co-operation at operational and tactical levels, the military said.
Pakistani leaders are also scheduled to meet next week to discuss ending a nearly sixmonth blockade on NATO supplies into Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will convene the meetings which will also debate how to repair relations with the United States in time to attend a key NATO summit later this month.
Diplomats on both sides have been keen to resolve the impasse between Islamabad and Washington before the NATO summit on Afghanistan in Chicago on May 21-22.
Earlier on Friday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested that Pakistan could miss out on important talks on the future of Afghanistan if it fails to reopen supply routes in time to secure a place at a NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21.
Speaking at a news conference, Rasmussen made no explicit reference to excluding Pakistan - which closed transit routes to Afghanistan after 24 of its soldiers were killed in a NATO cross-border air attack last November.
But he noted that other countries providing supply routes to NATO had been invited to the summit, which will map out a future for Afghanistan after most foreign combat troops are withdrawn at the end of 2014.
“As I mentioned we have actually invited a number of countries from the region, neighbours of Afghanistan, Central Asian countries, Russia, because they provide important transit arrangements to the benefit of our operation,” he said in response to a question.
“But as you also know our transit routes through Pakistan are currently blocked so we have to continue our dialogue with Pakistan with a view to finding a solution to that because that’s really a matter of concern.” Pakistan has demanded a formal apology from the United States for the crossborder attack before it reopens the supply routes, and has also called for an end to U.S. drone strikes on its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.