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Pakistani, Afghan Military, International Forces Talk Security


FILE - Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif attends the change of command ceremony in with outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (not in picture) at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, Nov. 29, 2013.

FILE - Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif attends the change of command ceremony in with outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (not in picture) at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, Nov. 29, 2013.

Pakistan's army chief was in Kabul Monday for talks with Afghan military leaders and officials with the NATO-led international force. The meeting takes place amid tensions after Pakistani and Afghan forces exchanged fire across the border last week and international troops continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Monday's visit to neighboring Afghanistan was the first for Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif since he was appointed in November of last year, and sets the stage for relations between the two countries’ militaries as international forces wind down their presence in the country.

Sharif met with top Afghan defense officials and leaders from the International Security Assistance Force or ISAF. However, he was not expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai, whose tenure is to end following the election of a new Afghan leader on June 14.

Afghan Foreign Office spokesman Ahmad Shakib Mustaghni told reporters that the participants, including Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, discussed regional security issues as well as recent incidents of cross-border firing.

He says, they hope the problems created by the other side of the Durand Line in some areas of Afghanistan can be resolved, and today’s session resulted in some proposals for long-term solutions.

Porous border

The Durand Line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan is a porous border that cuts through lawless tribal areas where the Taliban and other militant groups operate. Both the Pakistani and Afghan military target militants who infiltrate from either side of the border in the remote area.

Kabul says that since last week there have been three incidents of Pakistani shelling inside Afghanistan. Pakistani officials have accused Afghan forces of firing on their military posts. No one was injured in the cross-border incidents.

Afghan Defense Ministry deputy spokesman General Daulat Waziri told VOA that some areas in Afghanistan are under threat because of insurgents coming across the border from their safe havens in Pakistan.

He said the talks aimed to resolve those and other security issues.

He describes the talks as consultative sessions in which the participants discussed the concerns of both sides. In the end, he said, they will take decisions that all three sides can agree on.

Top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Joseph Dunford, at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, June, 18, 2013.

Top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Joseph Dunford, at ISAF headquarters in Kabul, June, 18, 2013.

Gen. Joseph Dunford was also present in the meeting representing ISAF. It was the 37th such tripartite meeting.

President Karzai was on a four-day official visit to China.

The Afghan leader's tenure is due to end after the June 14 run-off election between Afghanistan’s two top contender’s for the presidency, former minister Abdullah Abdullah, and former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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