WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, Minister of Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, and other senior Pakistani officials today in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement issued today.
Woog’s statement reads as follows:
United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, Minister of Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, and other Pakistani officials on Dec. 9 in meetings in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Secretary Hagel’s visit, the first by a U.S. secretary of defense in nearly four years, provided an opportunity to advance a broad, robust, and continuous United States–Pakistan dialogue on topics of shared concern, including security and stability in the region.
Secretary Hagel reviewed the mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship and reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to fostering peace and security in the region. The secretary also emphasized the U.S. desire for a strong, long-term partnership with Pakistan. He updated the prime minister, minister of defense, and the chief of the army staff on U.S. and NATO efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan.
Secretary Hagel raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open and thanked the prime minister for his government's continued support. They discussed that while the GLOCs (Ground Lines of Communication) are open, noting goods are flowing through the Chaman gate, protests and security issues on the Pakistan side have impacted the ability of goods to move through the Torkham Gate. The prime minister indicated that Pakistan would address the issue.
During his meeting with the prime minister, Secretary Hagel reviewed shared concerns regarding the activities of terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, on Pakistani territory. He also discussed the robust U.S. security assistance program designed to support the Pakistani government’s struggle against militants responsible for killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis. The secretary stressed that as ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces draw down over the course of 2014, U.S. and coalition partners remain resolved to not let militants destabilize the region.
U.S. assistance to Pakistan continues to help build the counter-insurgency and counterterrorism capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces, which are critical to countering violence in the western border regions. Since 2002, Pakistan has received more than $16 billion of security assistance and reimbursements. Pakistan’s determined effort to root out terrorism and militancy on its own territory is essential for creating a stable environment for promoting economic growth and prosperity.
The secretary’s visit follows the 22nd Defense Consultative Group, held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 21-22. The defense consultative group is responsible for establishing the scope and character of bilateral security cooperation and is a part of the strategic dialogue, which was re-energized during Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan in August and reaffirmed by President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif on his visit to Washington in October.