US defense secretary to hold talks in Pakistan
Islamabad – US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is scheduled to hold talks with the Pakistani civil and military leaders on security issues Monday, officials here said.
Hagel earlier visited Afghanistan at a time when relations between Washington and Kabul are tense over a proposed security accord that will allow thousands of American troops to stay beyond the 2014 NATO-led internatinal troops’ withdrawal, reported Xinhua.
The Pakistani and the US officials said Hagel will meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s new army chief General Raheel Sharif and will review cooperation in the war on terror and peace in Afghanistan.
Officials said both sides will also discuss US-Pakistan security partnership and the post-NATO Afghanistan.
The Pentagon Sunday said Hagel looks forward to continuing candid and productive conversations about “important security partnership and how to address common threats”.
Hagel will discuss Afghanistan an! d the security partnership between Washington and Islamabad, his spokesperson Carl Woog was quoted as saying ahead of the visit.
Relations between Pakistan and the US are under pressure over several issues, particularly the controversial drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
The US has refused to accept Pakistan’s demand for a halt to the drone attacks which the Pakistani leaders describe as an act against its sovereignty.
The issue of the NATO supply line is also expected to prominently figure in the talks as the ruling party in the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has blocked the main supply route for over two weeks to protest the drone attacks.
The Pentagon has suspended the withdrawal of military equipment via Pakistan following the blockade.