Top-Level Talks Focus on U.S.-Pakistani Operations
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
MUSCAT, Oman, Feb. 23, 2011 Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the top commanders responsible for carrying out the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy met here today with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to discuss regional security issues and explore new ways to better coordinate military operations.
In addition to Mullen, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command; Navy Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, participated in the day-long session.
“I was very grateful for General Kayani's time and the opportunity to continue the dialog and the relationship at this very critical time in our shared efforts,” Mullen told reporters after the session.
A military officer familiar with the high-level proceedings –- the third of their kind to date -- called them “very candid and cordial, and very productive.”
Both delegations gave operational updates, discussing the need for more road-building and other infrastructure development and greater cross-border communication and information-sharing.
“The chairman believes this kind of dialog is vital to improving coordination and communications between our two militaries,” the official said.
Mullen believes the Pakistani military “continues to do a remarkable job battling extremists inside their borders,” he said.
Today’s meeting had been in the planning process for months and was not tied to recent developments or current events in the Middle East, the official emphasized. It occurred during Mullen’s week-long trip through the region, which although long-planned, has changed in nature in light of widespread unrest in the region.
Kayani, in a statement released by the Pakistani military, said he was “pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with American officers the progress we have made fighting extremists in our country and to offer them my thoughts about how our two sides might better cooperate.”
“Pakistan’s soldiers have fought bravely and accomplished much at great cost,” Kayani said. “We must honor those sacrifices by making sure our military operations are understood.”
Pakistani Maj. Gen. Javed Iqbal, director general of military operations, and Brigadier Muhammad Saeed accompanied Kayani to the session.