US-Pakistan Military Relations Seen Thawing as Washington sends Fighter Jets for Joint Exercise

  • Our Bureau
  • 01:10 PM, January 23, 2019
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US-Pakistan Military Relations Seen Thawing as Washington sends Fighter Jets for Joint Exercise
United States air force (USAF) advanced fighter jets have arrived in Pakistan for a joint air exercise (image: Times of Islamabad)

In a sign that frosty relations between Islamabad and Washington could be thawing, the latter has sent fighter jets to the Falcon Talon-III joint air exercise, scheduled to take place at PAF Base Shahbaz in Sindh Province later this week.

The joint exercises come only a day after senior US Senator Lindsey Graham urged President Donald Trump to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as intense contacts between the two countries continue over negotiations to end the 17-year war with the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship. US President Trump would be far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today if he met Khan. Transactional relationship should be replaced with strategic partnership" Daily Pakistan quoted Graham as saying.

Relations between US and Pakistan have been strained after more than $ 1 billion worth of security assistance have been cut in light of accusations that the latter has been providing asylum to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network of armed groups.

Pakistan denies the charges, although in recent months the Foreign Office has, in several statements, acknowledged the country’s role as a “facilitator” in the process.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held meetings with Pakistan’s foreign minister and army chief during a two-day visit on Thursday and Friday, with both sides pledging to continue the dialogue process and to facilitate talks with the Afghan Taliban.

The US has held several rounds of talks with Afghan Taliban representatives in the Qatari capital Doha and in the United Arab Emirates, although negotiations appear to have hit an impasse when last week the Taliban threatened to call off discussions, the report stated further.

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