Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Efforts Continue to Improve Pakistan Relations, Spokesman Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2012 – The Defense Department remains committed to trying to improve its relationship with Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

Navy Capt. John Kirby met with reporters along with Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

According to reports, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani fired the country’s defense secretary, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, yesterday, potentially creating tension between the civilian government and military leadership.

“This is a matter for Pakistani officials and government leaders there, military and civilian, to work out,” Kirby said, adding that it doesn’t change the Defense Department’s commitment to moving the U.S.-Pakistani military relationship forward.

Little confirmed that Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spoken to his Pakistani counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in recent days.

“My understanding is that Chairman Dempsey has been in contact with General Kayani,” Little said. “It was a productive and professional conversation.

“The important thing with Pakistan is for us to continue that dialogue at all levels,” he continued. “We have an important military-to-military relationship with Pakistan, and we know that we've hit bumps in the road over the past several months. We hope to improve the relationship and get back to a place where we can cooperate vigorously on a range of matters.”

The two countries share issues of common concern, including counterterrorism and a range of other issues, Little noted. “So we look forward to improving the state of our relationship with our Pakistani partners,” he added.

Pakistan has not re-opened resupply routes for the war effort in Afghanistan, Little said, “but we do believe that we have sufficient stores in place, inside Afghanistan, to provide for a very successful warfighting effort in Afghanistan.”

Little told reporters that disrupting and dismantling al-Qaida and its allies “remains a top national security priority for the U.S.”

“The United States remains very committed to continuing efforts to damage al-Qaida and its militant allies,” he said. “Al-Qaida and its allies threaten the United States, they threaten our allies, and they threaten Pakistan as well.”

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