WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday visited the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defence, on invitation of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
Recognising the sacrifices made by Pakistan's military, law enforcement personnel and civilians, Defence Secretary Carter lauded the progress achieved by Pakistan in degrading terrorist networks.
He noted that Pakistan has been at forefront of fighting terrorism, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
He lauded the government's efforts to achieve a national political consensus on fighting terrorism.
The prime minister was accompanied by Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif , Special Assistant Tariq Fatimi, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
On arrival, the Prime Minister was received by the Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and Honor Cordon was in place to welcome the Prime Minister to the Pentagon. National anthems of Pakistan and the United States were played.
During the meeting, the Nawaz expressed satisfaction that bilateral defence 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 Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs), facilitation through Air Lines of Communication, maritime security and Counter IEDs cooperation.
The prime minister also appreciated the role of Pakistan-United States security cooperation in bolstering Pakistan's counter-terrorism capacity.
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.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter was joined by the National Security Adviser Ambassador Susan Rice, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson. Senior officials of the US Department of Defence were also present.
The prime minister earlier met US President Barack Obama. The two sides agreed to take effective action against all terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba.
According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, Pakistan also agreed to ensure that all Taliban groups, including the Haqqani Network, “are unable to operate from the soil of Pakistan.”
At a time of heightened tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, Obama urged Pakistan to avoid developments in its nuclear weapons program that could increase risks and instability.
With tensions high between Pakistan and India, Washington has been concerned about Pakistan's development of new nuclear weapons systems, including small tactical nuclear weapons, and has been trying to persuade Pakistan to make a unilateral declaration of “restraint.”
However, Pakistani officials said Islamabad will not accept limits to its weapons program and argue that smaller tactical nuclear weapons are needed to deter a sudden attack by India.
In reference to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Obama “stressed the importance of avoiding any developments that might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability,” a White House statement said.
In a joint statement, both leaders said “all sides” should act with restraint and work toward strategic stability in South Asia.
The two leaders expressed concern over violence along the Line of Control, and noted their “support for confidence-building measures and effective mechanisms that are acceptable” to both India and Pakistan.