U.S. commander Petraeus discusses security with Pakistan president


Islamabad : General David Petraeus, Commander US CENTCOM, called on President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday and discussed with him the regional security matters, an official statement said.

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Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and U.S Ambassador Ms. Anne W. Patterson were also present during the call, it said, giving no further details.
Petraeus, in charge of wars Afghanistan and Iraq, arrived in Islamabad on two-day visit for talks on security matters, officials said.

This is Petraeus second visit to Pakistan since taking charge of U.S. Central Command in November, as new U.S President takes oath today who Pakistan hopes would continue support to Pakistan.

The U.S is concerned over a major threat from growing militancy in the country’s North West, where the army is fighting against the militants.

Petraeus also met Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and will also meet other government officials.

Both sides discussed the security situation along the Pak-Afghan border and the situation in Afghanistan, officials said. They said that Pakistan, India tension over Mumbai attacks also came under discussion.

The U.S plans to send around 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan this year to deal with the rising insurgent violence there and to stop militants crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan’s tribal lands.

Defence analysts say that the United States and NATO are losing ground against Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, in spite of the presence of around 70,000 foreign troops.

Taliban have also strengthened position in Pakistan’s tribal region as well as in Swat valley.
Petraeus visit comes as relations between the United States and Pakistan show increasing strains over strikes by U.S. forces on militant targets in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also opposed to the U.S. strikes even on Monday when he met British Defence Secretary in Islamabad.

He said the attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and undermine efforts to isolate the militants and rally public opinion behind the unpopular campaign against militancy.

The United States has rejected Pakistan’s protest and says the attacks are needed to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan and kill Taliban and al Qaeda militants hiding there.

Pakistan says U.S carried out around 50 strikes last year and two this year.