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Group Meets to Discuss Way Forward in Afghan, Pakistani Cooperation

American Forces Press Service

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, April 19, 2006 – A cooperative group of officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and coalition forces in Afghanistan held its 16th meeting here today.

Delegates to the Tripartite Commission included Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hyat, vice chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan; Gen. Bismullah Khan, chief of staff of the Afghan National Army; and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.

This was the third meeting in which the Afghanistan and Pakistan delegations were represented at the four-star-general level, U.S. officials said. Officials from NATO and the International Security Assistance Force again participated as observers.

The session began with a guest presentation by the coalition's counter-improvised explosive devises task force on progress in combating the IED threat.

Following the IED briefing, the Afghan, Pakistani and coalition delegations each presented briefings focusing on planning for future operational activities, including a review of successes and areas for improvement.

The delegations then conducted coordination for their upcoming participation in Exercise Inspired Gambit '06, a joint military exercise conducted between the U.S. and Pakistan that will occur in May. At Pakistan's invitation, this year's exercise will include participation from an Afghan National Army unit for the first time.

The next briefing was delivered jointly by the delegations from Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was a summary of the first Afghan-Pakistani seminar, conducted at the George C. Marshall European Center for Strategic Studies, in Garmisch, Germany. Participants reviewed the seminar's highlights and the progress it made in developing security relationships, promoting active, peaceful engagement, and enhancing enduring partnerships between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The coalition briefed plans for the next of these seminars, tentatively scheduled to be held in September.

In addition, the delegates discussed border security and agreed to further enhance communication and coordination in this regard, with particular emphasis on expanding cross-border coordination along the Afghan-Pakistani border areas.

This plenary session highlighted the increasingly positive progress of communications and information sharing between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Combined Forces Command, and NATO-ISAF, which has helped improve security in the region, U.S. officials said.

The Tripartite Commission will meet again in June in Pakistan. At the June meeting, NATO-ISAF will participate for the first time as a full member of the Tripartite Commission.

(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)

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