WASHINGTON: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin will host an enhanced honour cordon on Tuesday for Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa when he arrives at the Pentagon for an official meeting.

The pooled press will be given access to the event, although there will be no briefing.

An enhanced honour cordon is reserved for the US president, vice president, statutory appointees, general or flag officers of the US military, foreign dignitaries occupying positions comparable to these US officials, and for occasions in which such ceremonies promote international goodwill.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also received an enhanced honour cordon when he visited the Pentagon in April this year for bilateral talks with his American counterpart.

The army chief is currently in Washington for a series of meetings with senior US officials. While the Pakistan embassy has not released the chief’s itinerary, other sources said Gen Bajwa was expected to meet National Intelligence Director Avril D. Haines, and CIA Director William J. Burns, besides the defence secretary.

Recent media reports suggested that he may also have a one-on-one meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but US sources say that it seems unlikely.

The COAS reached New York on Friday and met the head of the UN peacekeeping forces before leaving for Washington.

Gen Bajwa is expected to leave for home on Wednesday after an extensive session with US scholars and think-tank experts at the Pakistan embassy. Earlier reports suggested that he may also visit the headquarters of the US Central Command, but it will be difficult to do so if he leaves on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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