Army chief to visit US next month for talks on strategic issues

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Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif will visit the United States next month for talks with senior military commanders and defence officials.

This will be Gen Sharif’s first visit to the United States as the army chief, a position he assumed on Nov 29, 2013.

Official sources said that Gen Sharif is coming to the US on a personal invitation from Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey.

During the week-long visit, starting on Nov 16, he is expected to meet Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Gen Dempsey, Commander of the US Central Command Gen Lloyd J. Austin and other members of the American defence establishment.

He is also likely to visit CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, as its area of responsibility includes both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The visit also marks the first formal consultations between the top military brass of the two countries after Sept 30, when the United States and Afghanistan signed a bilateral treaty agreement.

The agreement paves the way for deployment some 10,000 US troops scheduled to remain in Afghanistan after a UN-sponsored international combat mission ends on Dec 31.