US defence secretary, army chief discuss ‘recent regional developments’

US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin and Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir “discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments”, the US Department of Defence said, during a telephonic discussion.

In a tweet, Austin said he congratulated Gen Asim Munir for his appointment as Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff. He added that the United States and Pakistan had a long-standing defense partnership and he was looking forward to work with Gen Asim.

It was the second high-level interaction between the US and Pakistani defence authorities after Gen Asim took over as the army chief on Nov 29. Last month, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen Michael Erik Kurilla had visited Pakistan and held a meeting with the army chief.

General Kurilla had met with senior military leaders, observed conditions and operations along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and discussed opportunities to strengthen the military-to-military relationship between CENTCOM and the Pakistani forces.

During the visit, Gen Kurilla also traveled to Peshawar to visit the XI Corps headquarters. Later, he and XI Corps commanders traveled by helicopter to visit the Big Ben post overlooking the Khyber Pass, where they observed border security and discussed the cross-border threat of terror groups operating in Afghanistan.

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