Army Chief General Bajwa and US Secretary of Defense discussed mutual security goals in the region.

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The combo features US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa (R).

Washington: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday telephoned Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss mutual security goals in the region.

The Secretary of Defense’s call comes against the backdrop of a changing situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made rapid progress in recent weeks and gained control of more than six key capitals.

According to a handout issued by the US Department of Defense, “During the call, Secretary Austin expressed his interest in improving US-Pakistan relations and continuing our common interests in the region.”

“Secretary Austin and General Bajwa discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, regional security and stability, and bilateral defense relations more broadly,” it added.

Pentagon’s statement on safe havens for terrorists

The day before, the Pentagon had said that the United States was in talks with Pakistan over the alleged presence of safe havens for terrorists on the Pak-Afghan border, which is causing instability and insecurity in the region.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby urged Afghanistan’s neighbors to refrain from actions that could jeopardize regional security.

He said talks were underway with Pakistan on safe havens for militants on the Pak-Afghan border, adding: “Pakistan has also been a major victim of terrorism.”

In response to a question, Kirby said, “So, we all – we all have a common sense – the importance of closing these safe havens and – and not allowing them to be used by the Taliban to sow discord among other terrorist networks.” And again, we are talking to Pakistanis all the time.

Expressing his commitment to Washington’s support for the Afghan government, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States would continue to provide air support to the Afghan Air Force whenever needed.



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