Hagel talks drones and Afghan peace with Pak PM
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday as Washington sought to defuse tensions over controversial US drone strikes and Islamabad’s role in Afghanistan.
Hagel flew from Kabul to Islamabad to meet the premier and the country’s new army chief, General Raheel Sharif.
Ties between Washington and Islamabad have been seriously strained over US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt as well as Afghan Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan’s borders.
Prime Minister Sharif “reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process,” a Pakistan government statement said. “The Prime Minister also conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over continuing US drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism.”
After greeting Prime Minister Sharif, Hagel said Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan had a “lot of common and mutual interests” and that he looked forward to discussing regional issues.