NATO wants to strengthen military dialogue with Pakistan

June 13th, 2008 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, June 13 (IANS) The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which is leading a strong international assistance force in Afghanistan has stressed the need to strengthen military relations with Pakistan. Speaking to reporters in Brussels during the NATO defence ministers’ meeting Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer said it was necessary to strengthen military dialogue between the alliance and Pakistan in order to combat terrorism that plagued both countries, EuAsiaNews reported.

Earlier Thursday Scheffer met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan in Paris and discussed Wednesday’s incident at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed, reportedly in an American air strike.

When asked to comment on the border incident, the NATO chief declined to do so saying there were no ISAF forces involved and that the matter is under investigation.

NATO has around 50,000 soldiers under its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.

“The Pakistani foreign minister and I agree that what we need with Pakistan is of course strengthening of military to military dialogue,” Scheffer said, mentioning the existence of the tripartite mission including Afghanistan, Pakistan and ISAF to discuss military matters.

“It is crystal clear that the border presents problems because we have seen increase in people crossing the border and doing mischief in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan is seeking cooperation to make that border less porous than it is at the moment.

Scheffer said he was in Islamabad last year and that he hopes to visit Pakistan again, but did not mention any date for his trip.

Meanwhile, NATO defence ministers in their first meeting after the April NATO Summit in Bucharest discussed developments in Afghanistan and Kosovo during their two-day (Thursday and Friday) gathering here.

NATO also has 15,000 troops under its KFOR mission in Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February.

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