Kayani calls for transparent ties with US

Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today called for transparent ties with US based on mutual trust as he met American commander in Afghanistan, days after the two sides struck a deal ending a seven-month blockade of NATO supply routes.

"The Pakistan-US relationship should be based on mutual trust, respect and transparency," Kayani said during a meeting in Rawalpindi with Gen John Allen, chief of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Kayani said his meeting with Allen, the first since Pakistan and the US signed a MoU on transporting NATO supplies to Afghanistan, has "helped towards improving strategic and operational understanding between the Pakistan military and ISAF".

Allen said "significant progress" was being made in improving cooperation with Pakistan, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting. "I look forward to these visits and am pleased with the upward spiral in our relationship they represent. We are making significant progress toward building a partnership that is enduring, strategic, carefully defined and that enhances the security and prosperity of the region," Allen said.

The Pakistani military had earlier said that the meeting between Kayani and Allen would focus on border coordination matters and reviewing progress made in implementing issues discussed during the last tripartite meeting between Pakistan, Afghanistan and ISAF. The joint statement said today`s meeting was "another in a series of opportunities for the commanders to continue building upon the growing operational cooperation between the Afghan National Security Forces, the Pakistan military and ISAF".

The three parties have "many shared interests" including their respective commitments to expanding opportunities for coordinated action against terrorists on both sides of the border who threaten Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region". The three sides are also "supporting Afghanistan`s security, stability and efforts towards reconciliation" and share the "responsibility for protecting the brave Afghan and Pakistani soldiers working in the border region", the statement said.

"The future security and stability of the region rests in large part on the strength of the partnership these discussions are forging. The talks also recognised the importance of future opportunities for key ANSF, Pakistani military and ISAF senior leaders to meet, explore means to expand the partnership, and continue this vital work," it said.

Allen`s visit came after Pakistan and the US took several steps to improve their relations, which plunged to a new low after a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November. Pakistan ended a seven-month blockade of NATO supplies after the US apologised for the air strike. The two sides signed a MoU on Tuesday for transporting non-lethal NATO supplies to Afghanistan via Pakistan until the end of 2015.