Pakistan Army chief embarks on US visit

Islamabad, Nov 15 (IANS) Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif on Sunday embarked on a five-day visit to the US to discuss security and defence matters and also focus on options to end the deadlock in the Afghan peace process.

The Pakistan-brokered peace talks between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban were cancelled after the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

According to the military, Gen. Sharif during his visit will meet the US political and military leadership and “discuss important issues including the regional security situation”, Xinhua reported.

The army chief will inform the US leadership of successes and achievements in ongoing operations, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border situation and negotiations with the Afghan Taliban leadership, according to an army statement.

Gen. Sharif, who is scheduled to begin his official engagements on Monday, will also meet US Vice President Joe Biden.

Meetings are also planned with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and CIA Director John Brennan.

Security officials told local media that both sides will explore ways to bring the stalled Afghan negotiations on track.

“There is a visible possibility for a new push for the resumption of the reconciliation process,” Dawn newspaper quoted a senior official as saying on the eve of Gen. Sharif’s visit.

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