US thanks Pak army chief for counterterrorism cooperation

The U.S. state department declined details of Gen Sharif’s earlier meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. on Thursday thanked the army chief of Pakistan for his support to the counter terror cooperation between the two countries. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is on a visit to the US and it is the second time in less than a month that the US expresses appreciation of Pakistan’s counterterrorism initiatives.

In a joint statement with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 22, President Barack Obama had “affirmed Pakistan’s role as a key counterterrorism partner and recognized the sacrifices that Pakistani civilians, military, and law enforcement personnel have made over the years as they confront terrorism and militant groups.” The statement had, for the first time, also made a specific mention of Pakistan’s actions against LeT.

After a meeting between Gen Sharif and Vice President Joe Biden, the White House said the “Vice President reaffirmed the United States’ interest in building a strong partnership with Pakistan that addresses our shared counterterrorism, economic, and regional security concerns.”

“The Vice President thanked General Sharif for his steadfast support to counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and underscored the importance of expanding efforts to help further strengthen regional security. Both leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to peace in Afghanistan and the important role that the United States and Pakistan can play to support a reinvigorated reconciliation process in coordination with Afghanistan,” it said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. state department declined details of Gen Sharif’s earlier meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry. State department spokesperson John Kirby described US-Pakistan relationship as “complex.” “It’s one we want to continue to improve,” he said, adding that he could not go into details such as whether the loss of six American lives in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks figured in the conversation between Mr. Kerry and Gen. Sharif.

“The general’s consultations in Washington were part of our regular ongoing bilateral discussions with a broad range of Pakistani officials, and we appreciate the productive discussions we had regarding our bilateral defence and security relationship. The Secretary reaffirmed our commitment to the U.S.-Pakistan partnership and its importance in addressing issues of mutual concern and ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity across the region,” he said.

Mr Kirby said the U.S. continued to be concerned about any violence along the Line of Control. “….we continue to urge the governments of both India and Pakistan to reduce tensions along that line and to resume dialogue to address these issues. This is for the two parties to work out.”