US admiral in Pakistan to discuss war on terror (Lead)

September 17th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 17 (IANS) Islamabad witnessed extraordinary security Wednesday as the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Michael Mullen, paid an unannounced visit to the city to discuss with Pakistani authorities the ground situation relating to the war on terror.Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and discussed the resent situation in Afghanistan and along its border with Pakistan.

Reports say that the admiral, who reached Pakistan early in the morning, held an hour long informal meeting with Kayani at the Army General Headquarters in adjacent Rawalpindi.

He then drove to Islamabad, where he held a detailed meeting with the American officials at the US embassy and met Gilani at his official residence.

Sources said that Mullen held a one-on-one meeting with Gilani for an hour and they were later joined by the army chief, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and senior Pakistani and US officials.

High security was in evidence along routes from where Mullen was to pass. While three different convoys passed through Islamabad’s roads towards the US Embassy in the city’s high security zone, a helicopter was also seen flying towards the embassy.

Experts are giving extraordinary importance to the meetings in view of the tension between Pakistan and US over recent border violations by the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

This was the second meeting between Mullen and Kayani in less than three weeks - the first being aboard a US warship in the Arabian Sea. Both meetings were unannounced.

When contacted, the military spokesman refused to comment on the meeting without confirming or denying it. He said that a press statement is issued on such occasions.

A US embassy spokesman confirmed Mullen’s visit, saying he was in Pakistan to meet officials and to discuss several issues relating to the war on terror.

Last week Pakistan’s foreign office summoned the US ambassador here to condemn the air raids by the US-led forces based in Afghanistan. After that, according to media reports, two NATO fighter planes were chased back by the Pakistan Air Force.

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