ISLAMABAD: United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said on Tuesday he had spoken by phone with Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and expressed the desire of the US “to continue to work together to further regional security and stability.”
Earlier this month, the Pakistani army chief offered Islamabad’s support for the Afghanistan peace process in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul amid growing violence as the United States withdraws its troops.
Pakistan is a key player in moves to resolve the conflict between the Kabul government and the Taliban insurgents.
In the past, Islamabad has been accused of harboring the Taliban — a charge it denies — but in recent years Washington and other Western powers have acknowledged its efforts to push the militant group to take part in peace talks.
“Today I had the chance to speak with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa,” Austin said on Twitter. “I reiterated my appreciation for the US – Pakistan relationship and my desire to continue to work together to further regional security and stability.”
Today I had the chance to speak with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. I reiterated my appreciation for the U.S. – Pakistan relationship and my desire to continue to work together to further regional security and stability. pic.twitter.com/wYq3oLaiNZ
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) May 24, 2021
A Pentagon statement echoed Austin’s words, saying “Secretary Austin reiterated his appreciation for Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and expressed his desire to continue to build on the US – Pakistan bilateral relationship.”
The two leaders also discussed “regional dynamics and our shared interest in security and stability in the region.”
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also met his Pakistani counterpart, Dr. Moeed Yusuf, on Sunday and “had a positive conversation on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to advance practical cooperation on these issues,” Yusuf’s office said in a statement on Monday evening.
Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi traveled to New York to attend an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on Palestine and interacted with several US lawmakers, inviting a group of fifteen US lawmakers to visit Pakistan in June for consultations with their Pakistani counterparts on improving bilateral relations.