U.S., Pakistan Seek to Broaden Defense Relationship
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010 U.S. and Pakistani defense officials wrapped up a four-day session in Pakistan today aimed at expanding the two countries’ defense relationship to address current and future threats.
The Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue Defense Working Group, known as the Exchange on Defense Planning, met at Pakistan’s Joint Staff Headquarters in Rawalpindi as part of the strategic dialogue process, embassy officials in Islamabad reported.
The just-concluded Pakistan session aimed to build on progress made during the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue meetings held here three months ago.
Participants at the Pakistan meetings reviewed current defense cooperation arrangements and ways to strengthen them, officials said.
David Ochmanek, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development, and David Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, led the U.S. delegation.
Retired Pakistani Lt. Gen. Athar Ali, Pakistan’s defense secretary, led the Pakistan delegation.
The U.S. delegation praised Pakistan's efforts to address violent extremism and recognized the courage and extraordinary sacrifices being made by Pakistan’s military, law enforcement agencies and the public.
The Pakistanis expressed thanks for U.S. support to Pakistan's security forces in fighting extremism.
Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, called the working groups “an important step toward broadening and deepening the comprehensive cooperation and friendship between the U.S. and Pakistan.”
“We look forward to fostering goodwill between the people of Pakistan and the United States and working together to effectively address Pakistan's political, economic, development and security challenges," Patterson said.
This week’s talks in Pakistan aimed to build on the high-level U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue in March. Those discussions focused on ways to strengthen, broaden and deepen ties between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton led the U.S. delegation at the March meetings that included Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and several other U.S. cabinet officials, as well as Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi led the Pakistani delegation, which also included Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and the chief of staff of the army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.
Both countries agreed at the Washington meetings to intensify and expand their dialogue in defense, economy and trade, energy, security, strategic stability and non-proliferation, law enforcement and counterterrorism, science and technology, education, agriculture, water, health and communications and public diplomacy, officials said.
The United States and Pakistan also discussed “how we can strengthen our relationship, and how we can help Pakistan in dealing with the security challenges that face them, but also face us and NATO as well,” Gates said before the March meetings.