Photo released by the Press Information Department (PID) on Dec. 9, 2013, shows Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) meets with visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. Sharif conveyed his deep concern over continuing American drone strikes in the country's tribal regions, the Foreign Ministry said. (Xinhua/PID)
ISLAMABAD, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday met the visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and conveyed his deep concern over continuing American drone strikes in the country's tribal regions, the Foreign Ministry said.
Hagel arrived in Islamabad Monday morning after visiting Afghanistan at a time when relations between Pakistan and the United States are under pressure over several issues, particularly the controversial drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal regions.
The United States has refused to accept Pakistan's demand for a halt in the drone attacks which Pakistani leaders describe as against sovereignty of the country.
This is the first visit to Pakistan by a U.S. defense secretary in four years.
"The prime minister conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over continuing U.S. drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis," the ministry said.
Nawaz Sharif and Hagel agreed to work together to strengthen Pakistan-U.S. relations and advance the shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan and the region, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
The two also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the prime minister stressed the importance Pakistan attached to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and reaffirmed Pakistan's support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, the Foreign Ministry said.
They reaffirmed the importance of Pakistan-U.S. strategic partnership for peace and stability in the region.
"They noted the substantial progress made in the bilateral relationship in recent months and acknowledged that the recent high-level exchanges including the prime minister's visit to Washington, meetings of the Working Groups on Energy, Defense and Security, Non-proliferation and Disarmament, have greatly helped in building trust and strengthening the relationship."
"The two leaders also reviewed the current state of bilateral defense and security cooperation and explored ways of further expanding cooperation in this important area of the relationship," the Foreign Ministry said.
Hagel also met Pakistan's army chief General Raheel Sharif at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and discussed "issues concerning defense relationship, Pak-U.S. bilateral ties and regional stability," an army statement said.
Hagel acknowledged Pakistan's efforts to support an inclusive reconciliation process in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry said.
U.S. Defense Secretary holds talks in Pakistan on security
ISLAMABAD, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is scheduled to hold talks with Pakistani civil and military leaders about security issues on Monday, officials said.
Hagel earlier visited Afghanistan at a time when relationship between Washington and Kabul are tense over a proposed security pact that will allow thousands of American troops to stay beyond the 2014 NATO withdrawal. Full story