Islamabad: The US on Tuesday agreed to step up efforts to provide defence equipment needed by Pakistan to maintain security along its border with war-torn Afghanistan and to continue discussions on the provision of military aid to Islamabad.
The decisions were made during the two-day meeting of the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, which concluded in the Defence Ministry in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
This was the first meeting of the DCG since May 2011, when ties between the two sides were hit by the unilateral American military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
A joint statement issued after the talks said: "Recognising the enduring security requirements on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the two delegations agreed to cooperate on a prioritised set of Pakistan s defence requirements which will inform follow-on consultations on security assistance."
Pakistan has projected a requirement for military hardware needed for ongoing anti-terrorism operations along the Afghan border. Another meeting of officials from both sides is expected to be held early next year in the US to discuss the supply of the equipment, official sources told PTI.
The joint statement further said: "The US and Pakistan also discussed the importance of the Coalition Support Fund and Security Assistance Programs, and agreed to continued consultations on the way forward."
The US had held up military aid to Pakistan, including payments from the Coalition Support Fund to reimburse Islamabad for its expenses on the war against terror, after bilateral ties plunged to an all-time low last year.
The Pakistani delegation at the meeting of the DCG was led by Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Asif Yasin Malik while the US side was headed by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James N Miller.
"Both delegations welcomed the resumption of bilateral security cooperation and agreed that relations between the two countries should be based on the principles of strategic desirability, political sustainability, trust, and mutual respect," the joint statement said.
The two sides further "acknowledged that bilateral counterterrorism cooperation has been critical to weakening violent extremists and underscores the importance of continuing cooperation to complete the defeat of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in the region".
They also "affirmed their mutual commitment to a strong defence relationship which they stressed should focus on achieving common objectives".
The DCG is the main forum between Pakistan and the US for coordinating defence policy to strengthening cooperation to support each country s security interests.
During the plenary session the participants shared their respective assessments of the bilateral relationship, discussed each side s strategic priorities, and agreed on areas for future defence cooperation.
The Pakistani side "provided an update on its military campaign along its western border" with Afghanistan and the US side made a briefing on the International Security Assistance Force's activities in Afghanistan, including efforts to give a leading role in security matters to Afghan forces.
In light of the cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011, both sides appreciated the efforts by their militaries to improve operational coordination.
They two sides also reviewed the "numerous challenges facing regional security".
The two countries said they are committed to continue working together to implement a "framework for defence cooperation based on areas of convergence" to promote peace and stability in the region.
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