United States Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin discussed areas of mutual interest and recent regional developments in a phone call with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir, the US Department of Defence said Saturday.
This was the second high-level interaction between US and Pakistani defence authorities since General Munir took over as the army chief last year in November. Last month, US Central Command (Centcom) chief General Michael Erik Kurilla visited Pakistan and met the army chief.
A statement issued by the defence department quoted Austin as saying the US and Pakistan have a long-standing defence partnership and that he was looking forward to working with General Munir.
“Today, I had the opportunity to congratulate General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s newly appointed Chief of Army Staff,” the US defence secretary said in a statement.
During the phone call, the defence department added, the two military leaders discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments.
In his last month’s visit to the country, General Michael Erik Kurilla 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.
At the General Headquarters, General Kurilla met with COAS Asim Munir and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza.
The leaders discussed security cooperation, security along the Afghanistan border, the threat posed by terror groups in the region, ongoing operations, and opportunities to increase cooperation between Centcom and the Pakistan Army.
During the visit, General Kurilla also traveled to Peshawar to visit the XI Corps headquarters.
General Kurilla and XI Corps leaders 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.