By Karen Parrish, American Forces Press ServiceOctober 20, 2010
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2010 - Defense Department leaders met today with Pakistan's army chief of staff to discuss military-to-military partnership and security assistance as part of the Third U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue under way this week.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy met with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and members of his staff this morning.
Morrell said during the meeting Gates expressed the department's appreciation and recognition of the Pakistani military's contributions and sacrifices in combating terror in Pakistan and conducting counterinsurgency operations there.
"[Gates] said that we are, of course, committed to the security and development of Afghanistan over the long term, but beyond Afghanistan and the important role Pakistan plays in the ultimate successful outcome in that country, we wish to build a long-term, wide-ranging [relationship] with Pakistan on its own merits," Morrell said.
Morrell said Gates also apologized for the inadvertent attack on a border guard post that killed three Pakistani soldiers in September.
"He said it was unintentional, and we are working with [Pakistan] to ensure it never happens again. He expressed his condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers," Morrell said.
Morrell said the meeting also covered the need to better coordinate operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
"We've been doing a much, much better job of that for many, many months now," he said, "but this incident clearly indicates there is more work to be done, and there was a resolve and commitment to do the hard work that it takes to better coordinate our actions on both sides of the border."
The discussion also featured security assistance topics including coalition support funds, the Pakistani counterinsurgency capabilities fund and foreign military sales, Morrell said.
According to a Pakistani military press release, Kayani and other officials from his country also will meet with other U.S. officials during their three-day visit to the United States.