PM visits Pentagon; meets US Defense Secretary

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WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited Pentagon here late Thursday at the invitation of US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and discussed with him bilateral defense relations and the regional security situation.

On arrival, the Prime Minister was received by the Defense Secretary, as “Honor Cordon” was in place to lead him to the Pentagon. National anthems of Pakistan and the United States were played, a statement issue by Pakistan Embassy said.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that bilateral defense cooperation had continued to grow over the past two years.

In particular, he noted successful cooperation in areas such as smooth movement of US retrograde cargo through GLOCs, facilitation through Air Lines of Communication, maritime security and Counter IEDs cooperation.

The Prime Minister also appreciated the role of Pak-US security cooperation in bolstering Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capacity.

In his remarks, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter expressed appreciation of the progress achieved by Pakistan in degrading terrorist networks.

Recognizing the tremendous sacrifices made by Pakistan’s military, law enforcement personnel and civilians, Defense Secretary Carter noted that Pakistan has been at forefront of fighting terrorism.

He lauded the government’s efforts to achieve a national political consensus on fighting terrorism.

During the meeting both sides also discussed matters related to regional peace and security including Pakistan’s outreach to Afghanistan and facilitation extended through efforts for reconciliation.

The Minister Minister was accompanied by Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaz Aziz, Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

US Defense Secretary was joined by the National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and former US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson. Senior officials of the US Department of Defense were also present.