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Gen Dempsey for rebuilding trust with Pak forces

Washington—US Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Wednesday said he is pleased that U.S. and Pakistani military leaders have met to discuss mutual concerns. “We want to rebuild the trust and confidence between our two militaries,” the general said.

Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, met with Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad.

It was the highest level-military meeting between the United States and Pakistan since a Nov. 26, 2011, incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.

Following the incident, Pakistan closed the ground supply lines that ran from Karachi up into Afghanistan, forcing coalition forces to rely on a northern supply route.

Dempsey told reporters traveling with him in South America that he has spoken with Kayani at least five times since the border incident. The Pakistanis, he said, want to reset the military-to-military relationship with the United States

This includes working the border issues with the Pakistanis and reopening the ground supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan, Dempsey said. He added that he believes the two militaries can discuss what must be done in Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas to improve the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Groups have taken root in the tribal areas that pose a threat to the national government and to neighboring Afghanistan, the chairman explained. Pakistan has sent troops into the region to take on these groups and to establish the government’s control of its sovereign territory.

Many officials believe the Pakistani military is doing about as much as it can. U.S. defense officials have been quick to point out that Pakistan has lost thousands of service members and thousands of citizens to the scourge of terrorism. “No one doubts the sacrifice or will of the Pakistanis – just the means they have,” one official said.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the focus of the meeting was to discuss the U.S.-Pakistani military relationship.

Little did not discuss details of Wednesday’s meetings, but said officials are hopeful that the ground supply routes will re-open soon. “They are important to our effort in Afghanistan,” he said.

Border coordination is much improved since the late-November incident, Little said. The Pakistani parliament is reviewing military relations with the United States, he added, and U.S. officials are open to dialogue. “We believe strongly that the relationship with Pakistan is very important, and this meeting is a reflection of our commitment to the relationship,” he said.—AP

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