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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mullen, Kayani discuss Pakistan situation
Friday, August 29, 2008
Military leaders meet onboard aircraft carrier By Sami AbrahamWASHINGTON DC: Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen appreciated Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani by saying that he was endowed with extraordinary qualities exceptionally committed to his principles and goals which, in terms of security challenges, were to do what was the best for Pakistan.Addressing a press conference here on Thursday morning, Admiral Mullen said that his recent meetings with Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani along with other top US commanders were extremely good and satisfactory. He said that the issues relating to the security situation in Fata and areas adjacent to the Pak-Afghan border were discussed in an open and cordial atmosphere and he was encouraged by the recent actions taken by Pak security forces to bring the situation in order there.When asked if the principles and goals of Gen Kayani were completely in line with US goals in the war on terror, Admiral Mullen said, “Gen Kayani knows better about the ground realities in the area. He is committed to doing what is best for Pakistan and he is going to stay the same way. “I am encouraged by the recent actions to improve the situation but it continues to be an extraordinary complex problem.” Admiral Mullen said that there were areas where they could do better, there were areas that the Pakistan military could do better. He said, “We understand that it is an area we can all improve on, but it is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”Responding to a question about the Pak-US relations in the post-Musharraf era, Admiral Mullen said, “The right way to engage with Pakistan is their newly elected democratic government — there are a lot of people in our government, who would be the right ones to deal with Pakistan on the political side.”When asked if President Musharraf’s departure would have any impact in the context of the war on terror interests, he said the two countries had to move on and look to future. “I think we need to move ahead, President Musharraf made a decision, he moved on, we all need to move on and look to our future, that is one we both understand and continue to have a strong relationship,” Admiral Mullen maintained.AP adds: With violence worsening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, top US military officers secretly met commanders from Islamabad on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean to talk about what else could be done.The meeting on Tuesday came after several weeks of Pakistani offensives against militants in the tribal areas, an effort American officials welcomed but said on Thursday has come nowhere near stemming the growing problem near the Afghan border.The meeting aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier was the latest of several meetings between Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Kayani.US defence officials said this time Mullen also brought Gen David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, who will soon leave to become the senior commander in the Middle East; Adm Eric T Olson, head of the Special Operations Command; Gen David McKiernan, Nato’s commander in Afghanistan; Lt-Gen Martin E Dempsey, acting commander of American forces in the Middle East; and Rear Adm Michael LeFever, American military liaison in Pakistan.A US official familiar with the discussion said Tuesday’s meeting was “more collaborative”, compared to similar meeting a month ago when Mullen took a “more firm tone” in warning Kayani that Islamabad was not doing enough to counter militants waging cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.“This was a pre-scheduled meeting aimed at discussing security matters at strategic level. The discussion was held in an open and cordial manner,” a military statement said. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said the commanders analysed the security situation in the region and that no new agreements were struck.US officials declined to say what, if any, decisions had been made and only confirmed on condition of anonymity that the daylong meeting had taken place. One official said it was not prompted by any recent political or military events, but rather planning for it began during Mullen’s previous meeting with Kayani, a month ago in Pakistan.“They are doing more and becoming more effective,” one US defence official said of the effort. “But there is still a long way to go in the” tribal areas. He added Mullen is concerned about the worrisome trend of a growing and more diverse group of foreign fighters who are carrying out more complex attacks against allied forces in Afghanistan, what Mullen has called “a syndicate” of extremists.

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