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Pak Army chief discusses regional security situation, defence cooperation with US military leadership

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WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (PTI): Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has met America's top military leadership and discussed the regional security situation as well as bilateral defence cooperation, according to the Pakistani military.

Last year, US President Donald Trump suspended military training programmes and cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of offering "nothing but lies and deceit" while giving safe haven to terrorists staging deadly attacks on the Afghan side of the border.

Islamabad rejected the charges and in turn accused Washington of trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat for US military failures in Afghanistan, plunging bilateral ties to historic lows.

Bajwa, who accompanied Prime Minister Imran Khan on his first official visit to Washington, visited the Pentagon and was received by Chairman Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford on Tuesday.

He had a discussion session with Acting Secretary of Defence Richard Spencer and Dunford, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, said in a statement.

"Regional security situation, including Afghan peace process was discussed," it said.

Pakistan has facilitated direct peace negotiations between American officials with Taliban militants who are fighting local and US-led international troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Dunford and Spenser "acknowledged contributions of Pakistan Army in war against terrorism and role towards Afghan peace process," it said.

Bajwa also met Chief of Staff US Army General Mark A Milley and discussed matters related to security and bilateral military cooperation, the statement said.

ISPR spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that Bajwa also visited the US State Department and called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"The two discussed regional security issues especially focussing on Afghan peace process, noting the importance of an Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled solution," Ghafoor tweeted.

Ways to improve progress of Afghan peace process & bilateral relationship as follow up to the summit meeting between Prime Minister Khan and US President Donald Trump were also discussed, he said.

Pakistan attaches great importance to restoring a robust bilateral relationship based on mutual respect, trust & shared values, the military spokesman quoted the Pakistan Army chief as saying.

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