RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: US National Security Adviser (NSA) Susan Rice called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters Sunday, where she “appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan Army’s sincere efforts and sacrifices in the war against terrorism,” said Maj Gen Asim Bajwa – head of the army's media wing.
During the meeting, matters of mutual interest – including the security situation in the region – were discussed, said the Inter Service Public relations (ISPR) director general.
Bajwa said both dignitaries also recognised the continued need for close coordination to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Pakistan conveys concern over blocked Coalition Support Fund
Earlier today, Rice, along with Senior Director for South Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council Dr. Peter Lavoy and US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss matters of bilateral interest and the future of Pakistan-US relations.
|PM Nawaz apprised US NSA Susan Rice of reasons behind cancellation of talks between India and Pakistan's NSAs. —PID|
The Pakistani side, which included Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister's Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, conveyed Pakistan’s concerns over the block in disbursement of the next tranche of Coalition Support Fund (CSF). Pakistan emphasised to US NSA the restoration of the fund next year.
|Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz meeting with US National Security Adviser Dr. Susan Rice in Islamabad on August 30, 2015.— PID|
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took Rice into confidence regarding the prevailing security situation in the region, particularly relations with India and Afghanistan.
Matters related to the war on terror and security and counter-terrorism efforts between Pakistan and the US came under discussion.
The premier apprised the NSA on Pakistan’s efforts for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is not only of regional interest, but also in Pakistan’s interest, the prime minister said.
On relations with New Delhi, Nawaz said Pakistan wanted to hold a meaningful and objective dialogue on all outstanding issues with India.
He also informed the US delegation the reasons behind the cancellation of talks between NSAs of India and Pakistan.
Nawaz said that the US is an important partner of Pakistan in all areas especially economy, defence and counter-terrorism. He said that Pakistan sees its relations with the US as a partnership which is in the interest of the two countries, the region and the world.
The prime minister said that he was looking forward to his visit to the US in October this year as an opportunity to further strengthen the ties between the two countries.
Rice underscored the importance of strong Pakistan-US relations. She noted the positive direction of ongoing cooperation between the two countries especially in the areas of defence, economy and energy sectors.
Rice expressed appreciation for the sacrifices made by the Pakistan Army and Pakistani nation in the efforts to root out terrorism and extremism and the success achieved so far.
She lauded Pakistan’s role in bringing regional stability by holding the first round of Taliban dialogue in Islamabad.
She also expressed appreciation for the premier’s vision of a peaceful neighbourhood.
Rice assured the Pakistani delegation that Pakistan's concerns regarding issuance of CSF and security issues will be conveyed to the White House.
The US has been reimbursing Pakistan for operations and maintenance costs incurred in direct support of its operations in Afghanistan since 2001. So far $13 billion has been reimbursed to Pakistan under this arrangement.
The CSF arrangement was supposed to end with the completion of the drawdown in Dec 2014, but the US government late last year extended the programme for another year through legislation which envisaged additional conditions, including a requirement for certification by the defence secretary that military operations in North Waziristan have significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network in Pakistan.
The certification has to be made by the US defence secretary to congressional committees after every six months.
In a move that has blocked the disbursement of the next tranche of CSF, the US told Pakistan that it would not be certifying to the Congress that its (Pakistani) counter-terrorism operation in North Waziristan damaged the Haqqani network.
The last tranche of $337 million was received by Pakistan last month. The non-certification will affect the disbursement of the next installment.
Doubts have been expressed in the past by both the US and Afghanistan that the Haqqani network has been spared in the Operation Zarb-i-Azb. But it’s the first time that the US has taken such a harsh step.
Pakistani military has, however, been insisting that “terrorists of all shades” were targeted in Zarb-i-Azb launched in June last year.
German foreign minister due to arrive in Islamabad tomorrow
Foreign Minister of Germany Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Pakistan on an official visit beginning on 31st August.
During his stay Dr Steinmeier will hold a meeting with Premier Nawaz Sharif and hold formal talks with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz.
"Pak-German bilateral ties, regional security situation and Afghanistan would be focus of discussion during the visit," a FO source told DawnNews.