Americas, Asia - Pacific

US CENTCOM chief meets Pakistan Army chief

Meeting takes place days after US President Trump suddenly called off Afghan peace talks with Taliban

Aamir Latif   | 09.09.2019
US CENTCOM chief meets Pakistan Army chief

KARACHI, Pakistan

The commander of the United States' Central Command (CENTCOM) on Monday met Pakistan's Army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, at army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir

Leading a high-level delegation, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie arrived in Pakistan on a day-long visit days after U.S. President Donald Trump, in a stunning development, called off months-long peace talks with the Taliban in light of a recent attack which killed a U.S. soldier.

The two sides discussed the "geo-strategic environment and regional security including Afghanistan and the Kashmir situation," a statement from the army's media wing said, without elaborating.

Last December, Islamabad brokered direct talks between the U.S. and the Taliban aimed at ending America's longest war through a political settlement.

The two sides, according to U.S. Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, had almost reached an agreement when Trump cancelled his scheduled secret meetings with the Afghan Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David following last week's brazen attack in Kabul killing 13 people, including a U.S. soldier.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told CNN on Sunday that Washington was still interested in striking a peace deal with the Taliban, provided they give up violence.

- On-and-off process

Pakistan had also brokered the first round of direct talks between the fragile Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad in July 2015, but the process broke down after the Taliban announced the death of their long-term leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, triggering a bitter power struggle within the militia.

Chances for resumption of the stalled process went further dim following the death of Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansur, in a U.S. drone strike on Pakistan’s soil in 2016.

Since then, several attempts to resume the stalled peace process have been made by a four-nation group made up of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S., and China.

Islamabad and Kabul have long accused each other of providing safe havens to militants.

A series of terrorist attacks in both countries, for which the two sides blame each other, has put a further strain on already tense relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years.

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