US commanders meet Pakistan's army chief
Pakistan's powerful army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met in Rawalpindi with General James Mattis, commander of the U.S. Central Command, and General John Allen, commander of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.
The discussion on Wednesday took place a day after U.S. President Barack Obama met Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Seoul. Obama had expressed hope that both countries could arrive at a "balanced approach" to relations. When relations between the two countries had soured following the November 26 airstrike. Pakistan in retaliation had refused to allow NATO supply convoys to use a route across its border to transport supplies to Afghanistan. Pakistan had also banished US personnel from an air base used in the CIA's drone campaign against Al Qaeda and other militants.
Voicing happiness over the meeting, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed hope it would help "reset the relationship." Gen. Dempsey, speaking on board a military aircraft on a visit to Brazil, said the U.S. hoped Pakistan would agree to reopen the routes the NATO had used to supply its troops in Afghanistan. Pakistani military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas has refused to divulge details of the meeting. A Pakistan army statement ahead of the meeting said it would focus on an inquiry into the November incident and how to improve border coordination.
Pakistani lawmakers are expected this week to start debating a panel's recommendation that the US stop drone strikes inside its territory and apologize unconditionally for the November airstrikes.